Organizational Interventions and Women’s Leadership


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Robin Ely and Irene Padavic recommend that those who research sex differences develop “mesolevel theorizing, which focuses on the interplay between organizational features and individual-level processes” (2007:1121). We agree. Further, we contend that several important studies have achieved this goal. Here we briefly review three of these studies and also contribute data from our on-going research. The studies we review are Claude Steele’s work on stereotype threat, Uri Treisman’s study on students taking calculus, Jane Margolis and Allen Fisher’s research on computer science majors, and our own on-going research on women’s leadership. In our descriptions and analysis of these studies, we will isolate a process common to all that is equally relevant to the social construction of race as it is to gender. Analysis of these four studies suggests methods that can be applied to a wide range of organizations. Therefore, the question is no longer how to neutralize the stereotypes so central to discriminatory practices, but whether we have the desire and conviction to eradicate the inequality caused by them.

Academic Division

History and Society



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