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HomeUncategorizedResearch: Why Gender Bias Persists, Even When Organizations Try to Curb It

Research: Why Gender Bias Persists, Even When Organizations Try to Curb It

In one company, managers were able to reduce gendered descriptions of employee traits and behaviors — but not how they valued and rewarded them.

December 20, 2023

Illustration by Ngadi Smart


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  • New research provides insight into why there’s been little progress on advancing women to leadership positions. The authors worked with a professional services firm, which implemented training to reduce manager bias in performance evaluations. They found that although managers were able to curb differences in how they described employees’ traits and behaviors (“viewing biases”), they were unlikely to catch differences in how they rewarded employees for those traits and behaviors (“valuing biases”). They explore why those biases persist and provide strategies for company leaders to mitigate those biases throughout the employee life cycle.

    After devoting time, effort, and resources to reducing bias, why are organizations still struggling to see the impact on the advancement of women to leadership positions?

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    • AW


      Alison Wynn, PhD, is a senior research scholar at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University.


    • EC


      Emily K. Carian is an assistant professor of teaching at the University of California, Irvine.


    • SK


      Sofia Kennedy is research project manager at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University.


    • JW


      JoAnne Wehner, PhD, is a senior research scholar at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University.


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  • New!


    HBR Learning

    Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Course

    Accelerate your career with Harvard ManageMentor®. HBR Learning’s online leadership training helps you hone your skills with courses like Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Earn badges to share on LinkedIn and your resume. Access more than 40 courses trusted by Fortune 500 companies.

    How to build a better, more just workplace.

    Read More

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