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Kevin Lewis

November 09, 2023

A creativity stereotype perspective on the Bamboo Ceiling: Low perceived creativity explains the underrepresentation of East Asian leaders in the United States
Jackson Lu
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming 


The "Bamboo Ceiling" refers to the perplexing phenomenon that, despite the educational and economic achievements of East Asians (e.g., ethnic Chinese, Koreans) in the United States, they are disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions. To help elucidate this phenomenon, we propose a novel theoretical perspective: East Asians are underselected for leadership positions partially because they are stereotyped as lacking creativity, a prized leadership attribute in U.S. culture. We first tested our proposition in two field studies in a natural setting: Across 33 full class sections of 2,304 Master of Business Administration (MBA) students in a U.S. business program, East Asians were perceived by their classmates as less creative than other ethnicities (e.g., South Asian, White) at the beginning of the MBA program -- when the students had limited interactions and thus were likely influenced by creativity stereotypes. Lower perceived creativity mediated why East Asians were less likely than other ethnicities to be nominated (Study 1) and elected (Study 2) as class-section leaders by their classmates. These patterns were robust after accounting for variables such as assertiveness (parallel mediator), leadership motivation, English proficiency, and demographics. These findings were conceptually replicated in two preregistered vignette experiments of non-Asian Americans with managerial experience (Studies 3 and 4, N = 1,775): Compared to candidates of other ethnicities, East Asian American candidates with a substantively identical profile were viewed as less leader-like as a function of lower perceived creativity. Overall, although East Asians are commonly stereotyped as competent, they are also stereotyped as lacking creativity, which can hinder their leadership emergence in U.S. organizations.

Why Women Won
Claudia Goldin
NBER Working Paper, October 2023 


How, when, and why did women in the US obtain legal rights equal to men's regarding the workplace, marriage, family, Social Security, criminal justice, credit markets, and other parts of the economy and society, decades after they gained the right to vote? The story begins with the civil rights movement and the somewhat fortuitous nature of the early and key women's rights legislation. The women's movement formed and pressed for further rights. Of the 155 critical moments in women's rights history I've compiled from 1905 to 2023, 45% occurred between 1963 and 1973. The greatly increased employment of women, the formation of women's rights associations, the belief that women's votes mattered, and the unstinting efforts of various members of Congress were behind the advances. But women soon became splintered by marital status, employment, region, and religion far more than men. A substantial group of women emerged in the 1970s to oppose various rights for women, just as they did during the suffrage movement. They remain a potent force today.

Does Greater Diversity in Executive Race/Ethnicity Reliably Predict Better Future Firm Financial Performance?
Sekou Bermiss, Jeremiah Green & John Hand
University of North Carolina Working Paper, October 2023 


In contrast to the equivocal findings in academic research, "the business case for diversity" is the dominant rhetorical paradigm for how U.S. corporations debate actions and policies around racial/ethnic diversity. In this paper, we conduct an empirical test of the paradigm by gathering data on the race/ethnicity of the individuals shown on the leadership pages of S&P 500 firms' websites as of mid-2011, 2014, 2017, 2020 and 2021, and then determining if any of nine measures of the racial/ethnic diversity of these executives reliably predict cross-sectional variation in any of six measures of their firms' financial performance over the next fiscal year. We do not find reliable evidence that they do. As such, our results do not support the "business case for diversity" when the claim is assessed using 1-year-ahead financial performance metrics and multiple measures of the race/ethnicity of S&P 500 executives over the last decade.

Corporate Boards with Street Smarts? How Diffuse Street Protests Indirectly Shape Corporate Governance
Muhan Zhang, Forrest Briscoe & Mark DesJardine
Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming 


Though recent waves of large-scale street protests have not directly targeted the business sector, they can still represent a major development in a company's external environment. Building on the literature on community embeddedness, this study extends activism-as-information theory to understand how and when companies respond to street protests that take place in their communities. We argue that for business leaders, the scale of protests serves as an information update regarding the changing relevance of the protested social issue in a community. Using data from 2017 to 2020 on Women's March protests in the United States, we show that the scale of street protests in local communities is associated with the likelihood of subsequent female director appointments for corporations headquartered in those communities: larger-scale protests are associated with a higher likelihood of such appointments. Further, we show that this response to proximal protests is heightened for protests that occur in local communities least aligned with the protest movement and for companies least internally aligned with the protest goals. Our theory and findings extend research on social movements in markets, showing how and why organizations respond to diffuse community protests, and they enrich corporate governance research on the roles of communities and stakeholders in shaping board composition.

Asking for less (but receiving more): Women avoid impasses and outperform men when negotiators have weak alternatives
Anyi Ma, Rebecca Ponce de Leon & Ashleigh Shelby Rosette
Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming 


Both research and conventional wisdom suggest that, due to their relational orientation, women are less likely than men to engage in agentic and assertive behaviors, leading them to underperform in zero-sum, distributive negotiations where one party's gain is equivalent to the other party's loss. However, past research tends to neglect the costs of reaching impasse by excluding impasses from measures of negotiation performance. Departing from this convention, we incorporate the economic costs of impasses into measures of negotiation performance to provide a more holistic examination of negotiation outcomes. In so doing, we reveal a reversal of the oft-cited male performance advantage when obtaining an impasse is especially economically costly (as is the case when negotiators have weak negotiation alternatives). Specifically, we predicted that female negotiators would make less assertive first offers than men due to their more relational orientation and that these gender differences in offer assertiveness should result in women avoiding impasse more often than men. Since avoiding impasses should improve negotiation performance when negotiators are able to obtain a deal that is more valuable than their negotiation alternative, women's tendency to avoid impasses should improve their performance when negotiators have weak (vs. strong) alternatives. These predictions were supported in eight studies (three preregistered) across various negotiation contexts, comprising data from the television show Shark Tank (Study 1), four incentive-compatible negotiation simulations (Studies 2 and 3, Supplemental Studies), and a multistudy causal experimental chain (Supplemental Studies 4a-c).

Transparency about lagging diversity numbers signals genuine progress
Evan Apfelbaum & Eileen Suh
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, forthcoming 


Numerous organizations pledge to increase diversity, yet few publicly disclose how diverse they are. We suggest this reluctance to be transparent stems from an intuitive (albeit often misplaced) psychological calculation: that revealing struggles to increase diversity will undermine one's credibility and reputation. We evaluate the effects of transparency about lagging diversity numbers across four preregistered studies (n = 4,483), using real EEO-1 diversity disclosures from S&P 100 companies (Study 1) and information about the representation of racial/ethnic minorities in participants' own organizations (Studies 2-4). Contrary to conventional wisdom and related research on impression management in organizations, we observe that transparency about unfavorable diversity outcomes signals the genuineness of one's commitment to diversity and thus increases perceptions of progress and trustworthiness. This research importantly synthesizes and extends scholarship on intergroup relations and self-disclosure and further suggests that, in some cases, the utility of transparency for managing diversity is misunderstood.

Founding Narratives and Men's Political Ambition: Experimental Evidence from US Civics Lessons
Amanda Clayton, Diana O'Brien & Jennifer Piscopo
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming 


One oft-cited reason for women's political underrepresentation is that women express less political ambition than men. We reframe the puzzle of women's ambition deficit, asking why men have an ambition surplus. Drawing on the concept of symbolic representation, we theorize that political symbols convey to men their capacity for exceptional political leadership. We test our expectations with a US-based survey experiment in which respondents watch one of three 'two-minute civics lessons'. Men who watched a video featuring the accomplishments of the Founding Fathers reported significantly more political ambition than men assigned to the control group. Additional studies indicate that the effects are specific to the Founding Fathers (as compared to early American statesmen). Men are also more likely than women to identify the Founding Fathers as inspiring figures and to feel pride when considering them. Our findings suggest how history is told contributes to men's persistent political overrepresentation.


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