Category: Gender and Management

MIT’s My Sister's Keeper creates a lively support network on campus

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 23 days ago

MIT's My Sister's Keeper

Any college campus can be an intimidating place. Feelings of isolation are not uncommon for undergraduate and even graduate students. For black women on campus, that sense of disengagement is often heightened. MIT wanted to address this issue while supporting the continued success of its black women students. This was the impetus behind the collaborative initiative, My Sister’s Keeper, launched last year with the goal of building community for black women at MIT.

"We wanted something unique," says Helen Elaine Lee, Director of the MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) and Founder of the initiative. "We hope to provide emotional and psychological support, foster kinship and community, strengthen academic performance, and cultivate engagement in social, political, and cultural matters beyond the classroom."

"I remember what it was like to be a college student in a new environment," says Karinthia Louis, a program manager for MIT Sloan Executive Education who also serves on the planning committee for My Sister's Keeper. "You're away from home, you automatically feel out of place. It's easy to stay in your bubble. My Sister's Keeper can change that by offering a variety of memorable experiences to bring black women on campus together."

The group's inaugural gathering last fall drew more than 160 people to the R&D Commons on campus. Attendees were surveyed about what they most wanted from the organization, and the responses revealed that black women students want someone they can turn to for mentoring and advice.

The organization has created "sister circles" to provide this connection--small groups of five or six students, staff, and faculty united by common interests. The circles are encouraged to meet regularly and share experiences. Each circle deliberately teams undergraduates with at least two older women. "Our goal is to build bonds and mentoring relationships. But we also want it to be mutual, so that we can learn from each other," say Louis.

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Corporate boards miss out when they don’t include women

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 10 months and 27 days ago

Shirley Leung, Business Columnist for The Boston Globe has written extensively—and frequently—about the dearth of women on corporate boards. In her piece, “Across Health Care Board Rooms, That’s Madam Chairman to You,” she discusses the growing role of women on health care boards (nearly a third of Massachusetts-based hospitals have a woman running the board for the first time) and she compares the trend to the fact that only three percent of Fortune 500 companies have female board chairs.

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Studies show gender gap still exists on scientific advisory boards

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 years and 11 months and 2 days ago

While the number of women holding positions on scientific advisory boards (SAB) is increasing, it may come as a surprise that those numbers are still low.

According to the U.S. National Science Foundation, although the proportion of women in industrial and academic science is on the rise—women make up 25 percent of tenured academics in science and engineering and more than 25 percent of industry scientists in research and development—when it comes to women serving on SABs, the numbers aren’t as positive. And, women are losing out because of it: membership on these boards is not without its advantages, including access to promising research, consulting opportunities, and monetary rewards.

paper published last October by MIT Sloan Professor Fiona Murray, along with Toby Stuart at the University of California, Berkeley, and Waverly Ding at the University of Maryland in College Park, examined the gender gap in corporate SABs. As part of the study, they reviewed a national sample of 6,000 life scientists whose careers span more than 30 years. In addition, the group looked at all publicly available lists of U.S. biotech SABs, including about 500 companies.

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Gender stereotypes in negotiation—does Sheryl Sandberg have it right?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 years and 17 days ago

How do you negotiate when you need to make a positive impression? The answer may depend on your gender. In Sheryl Sandberg’s much discussed Lean In, the author describes research findings that women perceived as hard-charging types are liked less. She advises women to smile profusely during a negotiation, use the word “we” instead of “I,” and express appreciation to your bosses. Of course, Sandberg is aware of the contradictions implicit in these instructions, given the tenet of the book itself and adds, “No wonder women don’t negotiate.” Her point is not lost on negotiation theorists who understand that for both genders there exists a tension between claiming value for oneself and being likeable in a conversation or negotiation. 

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