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Category Archives: Gender and Management

Corporate boards miss out when they don’t include women

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.

In an earlier column from October 2013, Leung’s headline proclaims, “It’s not hard to get women on the board.” Leung cites local Massachusetts-based companies Akamai, EMC, iRobot, and Constant Contact as each having at least two women on their boards, which, Leung points out, “is a better track record than most Fortune 500 companies.” But it’s not all good news: “In Massachusetts, tech firms are among the least diverse with nearly a dozen categorized as ‘zero-zero’—having zero women in top management and zero women on their boards.”

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, who is the head of the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), could easily argue that corporations are missing out on tremendous opportunities when they lack women on boards and in other senior leadership roles. Why? Simply put, Malone’s research shows that the collective intelligence of a group rises when there are women involved in that group.  Continue reading

Studies show gender gap still exists on scientific advisory boards

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.

A 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?

How do you negotiate when you need to make a positive impression? The answer may depend on your gender.

lean-in-book-coverIn 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. Women are assumed to be warm and relational, which might represent a barrier to advocating for themselves, whereas men are assumed to be competitive and thus less empathic in a conflict.

In “Making a Positive Impression in Negotiation: Gender Difference in Response to Impression Motivation” (Negotiation and Conflict Management Research), MIT Sloan Professor Jared Curhan and Jennifer R. Overbeck, of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, examined the ways in which impression motivation—the attempt to regulate other people’s impressions of oneself—affects a negotiator’s ability to claim value and to actually make a positive impression on his or her counterparts.

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