Monday, October 17, 2016

Consequences of Value Threat: The Influence of Helping Women on Female Solos’ Preference for Female Candidates with Michelle Duguid

At this week’s WAPPP seminar, we were delighted to host Michelle Duguid, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Duguid is a key scholar of power and status-linked social identities in organizations. The impetus for her research agenda began with a project on the social, profession, and philanthropic networks of board of directors. Looking through years and years of proxy statements, she noticed that boards were initially homogeneous and gradually added a few members with some demographic diversity. Once these additions had been made, further diversity stagnated. These observations led to broader questions: how do high-status groups diversify, and what factors dampen further diversification?

As we know, female representation at the highest levels hasn't kept pace with representation at lower levels. What explains this discrepancy? Are men consciously excluding women? Or is implicit bias to blame? One solution t this problem has been to deliberately place a few qualified women at the top to act as “diversification catalysts” – these women are supposed to counter stereotypes about women in the workforce, serve as role models, and advocate for women in the hiring process. If this approach is working, Professor Duguid says, it's at a glacial pace.

It may be that female solos – the sole women in working groups -- actually discriminate against female candidates. In her previous research, Professor Duguid and her collaborators identified value threat as the mechanism underlying female solos’ decisions to select or not select female candidates. Value threat is concern about not being seen as valued member of the work group, which individuals are keen to avoid. When female solos are faced with a female candidate with superior qualifications, they tend to experience value threat. Female solos may feel that their reputation and social standing is under threat, assuming that the group will view this woman as more valuable. Despite this value threat, women who actively exclude other women are not seen in a positive light – they’re derided as insecure, selfish “queen bees” or “mean girls.”

Organizations may look to women who have helped other women in the past to help diversify their organization, under the assumption that if they have helped women in the past, they’ll be less likely to discriminate in the future. However, it’s possible that those who have helped women feel licensed to not select a female candidate over an equally qualified man. If a female solo has helped women in the past, she doesn’t have to worry about the negative identity implications of being a “mean girl” – she can discriminate with impunity. This moral licensing is common in other areas – pro-social behavior in one realm can permit questionable acts in another (individuals who purchase “green” products are less likely to give to charity, for example).

Group context is significant to whether (and how much) individuals experience value threat. In particular, Professor Duguid has found that group status is correlated with value threat. If female solos are evaluating female candidates to join their high-status group, they are much more likely to discriminate. In a high-status group, female solos selected female candidates 30% of the time, compared to 76% for female solos in low-status groups. In low-status groups, individuals are less likely to get the self-image boost or tangible benefits that would come from belonging to a higher status group, and therefore care less about what other group members think. With decreased value threat comes decreased discrimination!

With these findings in hand, Professor Duguid set out to test two main questions: 1) Are female solos in high-status groups who have previously volunteered to help women licensed to discriminate against female candidates? 2) To what extent can context reduce value threat, and are women who experience less value threat less likely to feel licensed to discriminate?

Study 1

The first study was designed to examine the effects of gender and helping on value threat and candidate preference. Professor Duguid set up a “high-status group,” enlisting the help of the Dean. Study participants were told that they would be a part of the Dean’s focus group on the success of the school’s admissions process in screening for high-quality candidates. In order to qualify for the focus group, they had to score well on a test. Half the group was told that they could volunteer to help a same-sex candidate who would be working on a similar study by providing strategies for the test. The other half, the control group, was not given an option to help. After taking the test, participants were given the names of the other members of their “group,” three participants of the opposite sex. They were then told that they could select who the next group member would be and were given a man and a woman’s name. When female participants volunteered to help, they chose female candidates significantly less than in the no-option condition. Male participants overwhelmingly chose male candidates in both conditions. Female participants reported far more value threat than male participants, which mediated the relationship between gender and candidate choice.

Study 2

The second study was meant to examine effect of numerical status and helping on individuals’ experience of value threat. In this study, female participants could volunteer to help other women, be assigned to help women, or not be given an option to help. Consistent with the first study, female participants who volunteered to help were far less likely to select female candidates than those in the no-option condition. However, female participants who were assigned to help selected female candidates more than those who volunteered to help. This finding lends credence to the idea that volunteering to help creates a moral licensing effect that permits later discrimination. This study also demonstrated the difference between female solos and female majorities. Female majorities identified far less value threat than female solos, which mediates the relationship between numeric representation and candidate choice.

Study 3

In the third study, Professor Duguid looked at deliberate helping. Would female solos be motivated to volunteer to help other women in order to later discriminate against female candidate without suffering the negative attributions associated with this behavior? Female participants were asked to pick a candidate in one of three conditions: 1) the female candidate was slightly more qualified than the male (female solos should be strategically motivated to help female candidates in order to license future discrimination); 2) the male candidate was slightly more qualified than the female candidate (we would not expect female solos to be motivated to help women – they could select the male candidate based on merit without fear of seeming discriminatory); 3) the female candidate was overwhelmingly more qualified than the male (female solos would not be motivated to help these candidates to license future discrimination – it would be very strange for them to not select the overwhelmingly qualified candidate). True to the researchers’ predictions, female solos were much more likely to help in the first scenario.

Study 4

The final study was designed to test whether reducing female solos’ experience of value threat would influence their perceptions of helping other women as a licensing opportunity. If female solos felt more valued, the logic goes, they would be less likely to discriminate. In this study, before selecting a candidate, one group of female solos was asked to list five reasons numeric minorities “would be concerned about not being seen as a valued member of the group.” The second group was asked to list five reasons numeric minorities “would be seen as valued members of the group.” The third group, the control, was asked to list five things about their previous day. In the first condition, female solos were significantly less likely to choose female candidates. However, in the second condition, female solos chose the female candidate approximately 73% of the time. When female solos feel valued, they are far more comfortable bringing another woman into the group.

These findings offer an answer to the question of why diversification at high levels has been so slow. If women don’t feel valued, it would be unrealistic for them to pull someone in who could be competition. However, understanding value threat means that organizations can take positive steps to increase representation and diversity. Professor Duguid recommends substantially increasing the diversity of decision-makers and increasing inclusion to ensure that people feel valued, not just representative of a group.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Right to Rule and the Rights of Women in Victorian Britain

Female leaders often inspire a role model effect: their achievements can help close the gender gap in aspirations and educational achievement. But how can gender equality advocates best use these role models to advance their cause? In this week’s WAPPP seminar, Professor Arianne Chernock, Associate Professor of History at Boston University, discussed the relationship between Queen Victoria and British feminists in the 19th century campaign for women's suffrage and legal equality.

Despite her personal achievements, Queen Victoria was no fan of women’s rights. In an 1852 letter to King Leopold, she wrote, “We women are not made for governing, and if we are good women, we must dislike these masculine occupations.” In other letters, she referred to the campaign for women’s suffrage as “mad & utterly demoralizing” and expressed her sincere desire that “woman be what God intended; a helpmate for a man – but with totally different duties & vocations.”

Considered in isolation, these statements tell us little about how Queen Victoria factored into contemporary discussions about women’s rights. These statements were initially private opinions; her opposition to women’s rights wouldn’t have been known to the public until decades later. Few scholars have acknowledged this lag. Instead, the Queen’s personal opinions tend to dominate conversations about Queen Victoria and “the woman question” of the 19th century.

However, despite her personal opposition, Queen Victoria played a central and surprisingly sustained role in the Victorian feminist imagination. While the Queen herself kept a careful distance from anything gender-transgressive, Victorian feminists appropriated her image and leveraged her status as a female head of state to advance their movement for equality.

This strand of what Professor Chernock calls “royalist feminism” had tremendous influence. It was paradoxical that a woman could rule, while female subjects were denied most rights and privileges. For the sake of consistency, if not decency or enlightenment, they argued that rights had to be extended to women. The figure of the queen was very attractive as a point of entry into the conversation. The queen is a fact, not a fantasy, in British history. Royalist feminists could rely on the “wisdom of our ancestors” and appeal to tradition, rather than abstract reasoning, in advocating for gender equality. Professor Chernock notes that these are very appealing British logics!

Traditionalists in this period saw royalist feminism as a very salient threat that needed to be countered. These opponents of gender equality argued that queens had always ruled differently than kings and sought to emphasize Queen Victoria’s dependence on male advisors, especially Albert. They even began to assign a less disruptive past to Queen Elizabeth I, arguing that her male councilors and the male writers, explorers, and inventors of the Elizabethan period were responsible for the greatness of the era. Traditionalists used chivalric language to emphasize female frailty and to argue that the queen was in desperate need of guidance from “masculine hands.”

At the same time, there was a marked increase in demand for a purely ceremonial role for monarchs. Democratization and international pressures played key roles in this development, but gender was also a significant pressure. Female monarchs, it was argued, merely “reigned” rather than “ruled” – they did not lead armies or interfere in civil contests, but dispensed royal patronage in arts and education. This shift assigned feminine qualities to the role of the sovereign and downplayed the monarch’s authority. Rebutting this argument would require a strong defense of the crown’s prerogatives, which fewer were willing to articulate as democratization progressed and the boundaries of constitutional monarchy became more defined.

Once Queen Victoria’s letters were released to the public, anti-suffragists had a field day. In the Edwardian period, traditionalists continued to highlight Queen Victoria’s “diminutive” position in the state, as well as her own personal disdain for women’s suffrage. In Edwardian feminism, Queen Victoria was an entirely transformed figure, from emulatable role model to reactionary intellectual dinosaur.

Professor Chernock is currently writing a book on royalist feminists’ “creative, dogged, and unsuccessful” attempts to appropriate the queen for their purposes, as well as the cultural and political backlash to this movement that has had lasting political consequences.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Paradoxes in Transformations in Higher Education: Comparative EU-US Perspectives with Kathrin Zippel

How can global university reform help us design institutional change to promote gender equality in academia? This week’s WAPPP seminar featured a comparative EU-US study by Kathrin Zippel, Associate Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University and former WAPPP Resident Fellow for AY2016.

The “leaky pipeline” problem is a familiar one—at every level of academia, fewer and fewer women ascend the ranks. However, there have been broad transformations in academia that may plug these leaks and promote greater gender equality. In particular, Professor Zippel points to the globalization of scientific knowledge and academic neo-liberalism, characterized by global competition of knowledge economies, constellations of state-market relations, and an increase in managerialism within universities. These transformations change the way academia operates as an industry and thereby changes the conditions for gender inequality. Gender inequality is now seen as not having the luxury of excluding half the population, but we should instead be thinking of gender equality as a mechanism to make academia better.

Professor Zippel outlines four main approaches to promote gender equality in academia:

  1. Fixing women – past interventions such as FP5 in the EU and fellowships in the US
  2. Fixing institutions – current interventions, including EU FP7 structural change projects and the US NSF ADVANCE program, which provides grants to involve more women in STEM and improve the hiring, retention, and promotion of women in academia 
  3. Fixing knowledge – in the EU, FP Horizon 2020 now asks for gender dimensions in research; NIH grants in the US promote including more women in clinical trials
  4. Fixing problems – as part of Horizon 2020, the EU includes gender equality as part of “responsible research and innovation.” In the US, researchers have to explain how their findings will impact broader society, including gender equality
Interventions like NSF ADVANCE grants contain positive ingredients for change, according to Professor Zippel. The grant program encourages institutional self-reflexivity, creates statistical consciousness-raising in requiring data on women in science, and creates communities for change by building gender and diversity competences.

Common Challenges in Promoting Gender Equality in Higher Education

The increase in academic bureaucracy may be a boon for female academics. If departments exhibit gender bias or operate as “old boys' clubs,” women may find new allies in deans and provosts.

Redefining Excellence
We put a great deal of faith in “objective” measure of quality, but processes that look meritocratic can still contain bias. Even transparent evaluations are created in a social and political context – someone has to decide which journals are most prestigious and what “good” academic work looks like. We’re seeing a continuing trend of devaluing “feminine qualities.” The work that women do is either invisible or valued less in ranking systems.  Universities need to consider the “soft” and “hard” aspects that are critical to running the institution and to establish a clear link between gender equality and excellence.

Mobilizing the “Majority”
Why do we need to mobilize the majority? Because they’re the ones in power! Family policies and fair evaluations also benefit men in academia. To promote gender equality, we must think about mobilizing allies, building common ground, and demonstrating how dangerous biased metrics can be for all of us.

Involving Leadership
Gender equality shouldn’t be imposed from the outside, but instead integrated into the way academics think and evaluate each other. Instead of bringing in consultants to instruct faculty, Professor Zippel says, have senior professors instruct each other. Using their status within the institution lends credence to the value of gender equality.

Multiple Inequalities
As tenure track positions have dissipated, more and more academics have been stuck in temporary adjunct roles. These are particularly a trap for women; in an adjunct role, it can be more difficult to get enough publications and grants to establish oneself. The project to promote gender equality in universities tends to ignore these structural issues, focusing instead on how to make women more competitive with their male colleagues. However, gender is not the only inequality that academia perpetuates, and we need to be very intentional about the intersectional aspects at play. Rather than complaining about the pool of diverse candidates being too small, institutions should enact structural reforms to help create that pool.

Globalization of Academia
The increasing globalization of academia has given rise to “glass fences,” the international equivalent of glass ceilings. Women are finding it increasingly difficult to move laterally between countries because global science is also a gendered organization. However, there is a positive development in this space, which Professor Zippel refers to the “.edu bonus.” Because US science is seen as the global “gold standard,” when academics receive training in the US, that privilege travels with them. This higher status opens doors, particularly for women and other marginalized groups, and helps to overcome the glass fences problem. This is particularly important because moving laterally can help with rising vertically, given how important international collaborations are in science. These discoveries raise important questions about how we can mainstream gender into internationalization strategies and integrate global aspects into academic careers.

Promising Future Steps

How can we change university structures and cultures to allow men, women, and gender non-conforming individuals to enjoy and succeed in learning and discovery? External pressures on universities, from funding agencies, professional associations, and networks of university and research institution leaders, may help to promote gender equality. Global efforts like International Gender Summits bring together stakeholders to think about how to promote gender equality as a global movement. According to Professor Zippel, the most fruitful approach will be to combine examining gender inequalities in university structures and including a gender dimension in future research. We can embed gender in institutional logics – universities are already concerned with competition for rankings. Making gender equality a component of this competition can alter the norms of research communities and promote greater equality in academia.

Professor Zippel’s forthcoming book “Women in Global Science: Advancing Academic Careers through International Collaboration” will be available in February 2017.

HUBweek What Works: Designing Inclusive Organizations

This week marked the second annual HUBweek, a celebration of art, science, and technology in the Boston area. As part of a series on “Ideas to Impact,” Professor Iris Bohnet presented insights from her new book What Works: Gender Equality by Design in conversation with Meghna Chakrabarti, host of Radio Boston on WBUR.

Professor Bohnet began by describing Heidi Roizen, a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist and the protagonist of a case study used by business schools around the country. Researchers at Columbia University provided half of a group of students with the case with Heidi’s name attached; the other half received the same case, but with Heidi’s name replaced with “Howard.” Both male and female students rated Howard and Heidi similarly in terms of competence, but they didn’t like Heidi and didn’t want to work with her. Heidi defies our norms in two ways – she’s not what we expect a venture capitalist to look like, and she defies our conception of what a “good woman” is.

Why are our brains doing this? We are all accustomed to certain patterns in this world, and we try to fit our circumstances to these existing patterns. Look at the figure below: are boxes A and B different colors? Initially, it appears that A is much darker. However, when we eliminate the extraneous context, we can see the squares for what they really are – the same color. This is precisely what Professor Bohnet says she is trying to achieve with behavioral design.

What can behavioral design do for us that other approaches can’t? Previous studies have suggested little evidence that interventions like diversity training are working. Our minds appear to be pretty stubborn when it comes to implicit bias. Instead of trying to change mindsets, we can more effectively change environments to promote gender equality. 

Professor Bohnet gave examples of using behavioral design to promote gender equality in the workplace, including holding structured interviews for job candidates, including work-sample tests as part of the evaluation, and not allowing managers to use employee self-evaluations in their own assessments of employee performance. However, we can begin employing behavioral design much earlier. Standardized tests like the SAT that incorporate a penalty for guessing may disadvantage women, who are generally less willing to take risks. Though the test isn’t designed to encourage or reward risk-taking, there can be an appreciable score difference between students who guess and those who just skip questions, regardless of academic ability. As part of a larger revision of the SAT, College Board has now removed the penalty for guessing and, in doing so, mitigated a major source of gender bias. (For more findings like this, be sure to check out our Gender Action Portal!) 

In her first question, Ms. Chakrabarti discussed her reaction to hosting Professor Bohnet on her radio show in April. The potential for behavioral design both inspired her and caused a little sadness, as it confronts us with the idea that implicit biases are so difficult to overcome that it’s more effective and easier to make environmental or structural changes. Professor Bohnet replied that there’s good news and bad news associated with the prevalence of implicit bias – the good news is that it’s about all of us (not some “good” unbiased individuals versus “bad” biased ones) – but the bad news is that we’re all biased! Seeing is believing, she says. Changing the environment means that we start to see different role models, counter-stereotypical images, and our brains begin to create new patterns that mitigate implicit bias.

In thinking about the A and B squares image, Ms. Chakrabarti asked whether there’s such a thing as removing too much context, such that you no longer see the whole person. Perhaps in implementing interventions like using only structured interviews for hiring, we’re missing out on other diverse perspectives that applicants bring to the table. In response, Professor Bohnet said that we have to continue to measure. We need to understand what factors are predictive of future performance and which are not. Structured interviews can still measure “soft” skills that we think are important. Employers need to be intentional about what values they want to test – be it emotional intelligence or social competence – and incorporate those into questions in their structured interviews. 

Ms. Chakrabarti asked whether there is data utopianism in this approach, a sense that measurement will solve all of our problems. Professor Bohnet responded that generally, organizations just don’t measure enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Even if it’s not a panacea, we still have a long way to go in terms of collecting data so that we’re not just relying on internal stereotypes. Where we have been able to measure, the data show that these structural interventions are effective in a short amount of time. In the UK and Australia, civil service employees are now evaluated blindly. This intervention started with a pilot test, and since its implementation has doubled the number of women in senior leadership positions. The starting point is to recognize that everything is designed and become more intelligent about how we structure our world.  

The question and answer session raised a variety of issues, from the potential for gender bias in the presidential debate format, whether it might be possible to design in positive hiring bias toward diverse perspectives, and how to include transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in using behavioral design to promote gender equality. These conversations are an important starting point in generating new research, new innovations, and new behavioral insights.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

UNGA 2016: A Historic Moment for Refugees and Migrants

By Elisabeth Whitbeck, MPP ’17

Any day in New York City is hectic, but it’s hard to rival the multi-national bustle that is UNGA. 

UNGA – or the United Nations General Assembly – transforms the city’s Midtown East into a flurry of Secret Service vehicles, police barricades, celebrity-occupied limos and government affiliates from around the globe. The Assembly meets from September to December annually, but the first week is especially eventful as Heads of State and other High Representatives from 193 UN Member States come together for a General Debate on pressing global challenges.

Waiting for UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner
on Refugees Filippo Grandi to speak in the UN General Assembly Hall.
This year’s festivities kicked-off last Monday, September 19th, with the first-ever UNGA Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. This is the only time in the UN’s 71-year history that the General Assembly has called on Heads of State, UN system leadership, civil society, the private sector, international organizations, and academia to come together to strengthen international protections for migrants and refugees. As a summer fellow with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – an opportunity supported by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program – I dedicated my time to planning both the content and logistics of the Summit, and I was lucky enough to return to New York for the big day.

By Monday morning, all 193 Member States had already agreed to adopt a pre-negotiated “New York Declaration” which, among its many tenets, gives the General Assembly and UNHCR a deadline of 2018 to present two Global Compacts. The first will focus on refugees and the other migrants, with guidelines for the treatment of these vulnerable populations. The
Declaration also clarifies the importance of intergovernmental “responsibility sharing” to relieve pressure on the small group of fragile frontline countries that currently shoulder a disproportionate share of refugee crisis costs. In adopting the Declaration, Member States reaffirmed the importance of adhering to the relevant international laws, such as the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Listening into New York Declaration negotiation 
discussions this summer via UN translation headset. 
From Syria, to Uganda, to Pakistan to the US, the growing global phenomenon of large movements of refugees and migrants has reached unprecedented proportions. In 2015, the number of migrants surpassed 244 million, growing at a rate faster than the world’s population. A 2015 UNHCR report indicates that there are 21.5 million refugees, 3.2 million asylum seekers, and 40 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) – a total of over 65 million forcibly displaced across the globe. This is the highest amount since UNHCR began keeping record in the 1950s.

One lesser-known fact is that forced migration disproportionately affects women and girls, because of hardships like a lack of access to health services, limited educational opportunities, and rampant sexual and gender-based violence. Over 60 percent of preventable maternal mortality deaths take place in settings of conflict, displacement and natural disasters.

Reviews of the New York Declaration and its Global Compacts have been mixed. Critics point out that the document contains no concrete commitments and is not legally binding. Moreover, the Declaration drew ire from many advocacy organizations when UN Member States removed the original draft’s pledge to resettle 10 percent of the world’s refugees per year during negotiations. Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch explained, “We're facing an historic crisis and the response is not historic."

High Commissioner Grandi addresses the General Assembly Hall. 
Although the Declaration prescribes that the Global Compacts incorporate “a gender perspective” and “promote gender equality and the empowerment,” UN funding to gender-specific projects is historically lacking. Only 4 percent of UN projects in 2014 specifically targeted women and girls, and less than 1 percent of all funding to fragile states went to women’s groups or women’s ministries between 2012 and 2013. As the General Assembly and UNHCR develop the Global Compacts over the next two years, leadership and participation of migrant and refugee women will be essential to address and meet gender-specific needs.

UN leaders like Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi disagree with the critics. The Secretary General – a refugee himself during the Korean War – declared on Monday that “Today’s summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility.” High Commissioner Grandi praised the Declaration for expanding the concept of an international refugee response, because now Member States unanimously agree that traditional humanitarian aid is inadequate. The High Commissioner also said that States’ reaffirming existing international law will give UNHCR more leverage in holding Members accountable for their obligations to refugees and migrants.

As I took the train back to Cambridge on Tuesday night, I thought about something UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Monday: “The bitter truth is, this Summit was called because we have been largely failing.” More people are forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II, and the only answer to this global problem is to harness the political will of the international community. This Summit and the accompanying New York Declaration did just that – it created a blueprint for world leaders to build a more robust protection structure for refugees and migrants.

It was a breathtaking and historic moment to watch. Now that the framework is in place, it’s time for UNHCR and UN Member States to translate that vision into action.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blurring the Boundaries Between the Social and Commercial Sectors with Lakshmi Ramarajan

The social and commercial sectors are distinct in terms of their goals and values, but in recent years, the boundaries between these sectors have begun to blur. Social ventures are increasingly employing commercial activities such as marketing, accounting, and hiring employees with business backgrounds. Social sector organizations have important choices to make about how to manage the tension between the goals and practices of the social and commercial sectors. In particular: how do you generate revenue? Social sector organizations can operate on a continuum between typical charity-driven revenue generation and more commercial activities. This week’s WAPPP seminar featured results of a new collaboration presented by Professor Lakshmi Ramarajan, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Organizational Behavior Unit, Harvard Business School.

Previous research has often pointed to environmental factors to explain why social sector organizations make revenue generation choices; for example, turning to more commercial activities when government funding dries up. However, little research has used a gender lens despite the social and commercial sectors being often gendered (the social sector as feminine and the commercial sector as masculine). How might cultural beliefs about gender influence the relationship between social ventures and commercial activities? Professor Ramarajan and her collaborators examine two key research questions: to what extent do female social venture founders employ “masculine” commercial activities in their revenue generation? And to what extent does the proportion of female business owners in the commercial sector affect these choices? Female social venture founders may risk backlash for engaging in masculine-typed behavior in a feminized setting. Alternatively, a higher proportion of female business owners may change the cultural beliefs related to women using commercial practices.

To investigate these questions, Professor Ramarajan examined applications to a prominent fellowship program for early-stage social ventures.  Applicants received a 1-5 ranking based on whether commercial activities were going to be a part of their revenue generation (1 for not at all, 5 for completely commercial). Female social venture founders generally planned on using no commercial activities in their revenue generation. At every positive level of commercial activity, female social venture founders were less likely to use commercial practices than male founders. However, this effect is mitigated by the proportion of female-owned businesses in the community. As the proportion of female business owners in a community increases, so too does the likelihood of female social venture founders using commercial practices.

The collaborators tested this conclusion with a second data set on nonprofit entrepreneurship. These organizations are similar to social ventures in that they’re recently founded, have a social mission, and face many of the same commercialization pressures. However, the researchers have access to data on the full population of newly founded nonprofits, so they don’t face the same self-selection bias issues as in the fellowship application.

To operationalize commercial activity among nonprofits, the researchers used data from tax filings on the percentage of total revenues from commercial services. They also included data on whether the nonprofit had a female leader or a woman among its top five ranking officers, along with the proportion of female business owners in that community. This data set replicated the earlier findings: nonprofits with female leaders are associated with a smaller percentage of revenue from commercial sources. As the proportion of female business owners in the local community increases, female-led nonprofits are more likely to generate a greater percentage of revenue from commercial sources.

Finally, Professor Ramarajan and her collaborators conducted an exploratory analysis on whether commercialization of female-led social ventures affects their organizational survival. They looked at tax filings over five years, using whether the nonprofit was still reporting taxes as a proxy for its organizational survival. On its own, female leadership doesn’t have much of an effect on organizational survival. Similarly, generating revenue through commercial activities does not significantly affect organizational survival. However, the interaction term is significant: female-led organizations that generate revenue from commercial sources have a greater risk of failure. This finding has significant implications for founders’ choices of whether or not to commercialize.

This research highlights the gendered aspects of entrepreneurship, particularly how gendered cultural beliefs inform choice of activities and models of organizing. Further, these findings highlight the importance of female business owners as a conduit between the social and commercial sectors. Female business owners both disrupt gender norms in business sector and shape how women disrupt gender norms in social sector.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Protection from Gender Violence as a Civil Right with Kristin Bumiller

Recent conversations about sexual assault and harassment on college campuses have triggered questions about the role of regulation in a university environment – how should a university balance its obligations under federal regulation with the interests and needs of its students? This week’s WAPPP seminar featured Professor Kristin Bumiller, George Daniel Olds Professor in Economic and Social Institutions and Chair of Political Science at Amherst College. Professor Bumiller’s presentation focused on the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR’s) enforcement of Title IX with respect to campus sexual misconduct. However, her conclusions have a broad application to public enforcement of civil rights remedies for violence.

In 2011, the OCR released a guidance letter that places certain obligations on educational institutions and grants students the possibility of a civil rights remedy for any and all forms of sexual misconduct. This guidance letter circumvents legislative rulemaking, which is not a new strategy – the federal government employed similar methods to desegregate public schools and to equalize opportunities for women in athletics. However, the most controversial aspects of the guidance letter are those that place universities in an investigative or adjudicative role for sexual misconduct, when these issues may be more appropriately handled in criminal court. This dichotomy – between internal university procedures and the criminal justice system – does not adequately capture the complex reality of the social policies at play, according to Professor Bumiller.  

The consequences of displacing private action with public enforcement

Civil rights cases have always relied on the “hybridity” of public and private action. Individuals bring their own civil rights claims, acting as “private attorneys general” to seek enforcement for themselves and in the public interest. These cases set the stage for future litigants and play a vital role in expanding civil rights doctrine. However, victims of discrimination bear enormous burdens (including psychological and financial) in seeking to assert their rights in court. Students who experience sexual violence typically have little capacity for private action – though they can go to federal courts or ask for protection from OCR, both forms of relief likely occur in small numbers, as there is a very high standard required to bring a claim against the school. This burden on victims to create systemic change diminishes the prospects for private action. Shifting toward public enforcement may detract from private action that has previously stimulated policy innovation.

Confluence of OCR directives and managerial prerogatives within universities

Managerialism has been growing in all aspects of university life, with a greater emphasis on efficiency, quality control, and evidence-based programming. One of these managerial priorities is securing campus safety, even though these concerns may require tradeoffs with student and faculty autonomy and privacy. Ensuring campus safety may justify enacting policies (like mandatory reporting) that replace community norms. In some cases, Professor Bumiller says, the OCR directives are used to transform the organizational culture of the university in order to reduce risk. When this occurs, regulations stand in for rights and compete with fundamental protections that define relationships in university settings. The assumption of managerial logic means that anything related to sex is considered a security issue.

The role of legal entrepreneurs in creating compliance regimes

Regulations like the OCR guidance may produce voluntary commitments, according to Professor Bumiller, but these commitments might be loosely connecting to actually promoting equality. Rather, these commitments are largely instrumental to institutions’ public relations agenda – rather than being substantive initiatives, they’re “good for business.” In trying to protect against reputational risk, many institutions have sought out compliance specialists – usually lawyers and risk managers – who offer expertise on interpreting guidance letters like the OCR’s and advice on avoiding sanctions. These compliance specialists often strongly counsel universities to take the opportunity to standardize policies and more closely monitor all workplace behavior. As previously mentioned, this can create a difficult tension between risk mitigation and other priorities like student privacy – and with the threat of sanctions, risk mitigation can overrule campus values.

Title IX enforcement and the larger symbolic project of protecting women

The OCR guidelines are an example of administrative actions that take derivative civil rights authority and implement it through federal criminal justice policy, Professor Bumiller says. Pointing to campus sexual misconduct as a criminal issue provides an opportunity for political leaders to show they are tough on crime. In doing so, the narrative of campus sexual assault is separated from fact and serves to polarize the audience, simplify the problem, and overestimate the government’s capacity to solve it. While the discourse on protecting women creates opportunities for leaders to claim credit for solving political problems, more often than not administrative and legislative actions reinforce the status quo.

Civil rights enforcement expanding a crime-control agenda

Civil rights enforcement is linked to a larger shift to a victim-centered crime control agenda. However, Professor Bumiller says, victims don’t always benefit from victim-centered criminal justice regulation – it can be ineffective, counterproductive, or at worst can criminalize women (for example, when women report domestic violence, they risk being arrested themselves).

While institutions may have an interest in punitive measures or a police response, victims’ desires vary wildly. When regulations diminish individuals’ autonomy to handle the situation how they choose, the focus is back on the institution furthering its own interests and minimizing risk from the incident.

The essential problem, according to Professor Bumiller, is that Title IX enforcement in this realm never established its force as a civil rights measure, and instead substituted crime control as its fundamental goal. The rule of law is expressly punitive, and institutions demonstrate that they are taking sexual violence by punishing the accused. As long as this demonstrating compliance is the goal, Professor Bumiller says, we will conflate civil and criminal adjudication, both of which are linked to state and institutional powers furthering their own interests.

The question and answer session for this seminar was particularly rich, touching on the literature on victim-centered crime control measures and issues of access to the criminal justice system. Perhaps the most compelling topic was whether education and awareness campaigns about campus sexual assault overemphasize the sexual aspect. Much of the literature on sexual violence emphasizes that these acts are not about sex, but power. We may not be adequately interrogating the dynamics of gender and power on college campuses. As more women enter universities and excel, there may be some gendered resentment or feelings of being left behind that underlie sexual misconduct and violence. These considerations have largely been left out of the policy discussion, but may play a critical role in understanding and combatting sexual misconduct on campus.