“The Confrontation of Biased Comments at Work: Why Respond and What Happens Next?”
Hosted by the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Abstract: Overtly biased comments arise in the course of everyday workplace interactions. In this talk, I share insights from my body of research studying how minorities and women respond in the moment when someone expresses overt bias against their groups, and what happens next. I will briefly review published work, where I find that people’s mindsets, or their beliefs about whether personality is fixed or can change, influence both their likelihood of confronting a biased statement and shape how negatively they feel afterwards. I then present studies from two new programs of research that consider how individuals in the broader social context shape the dynamics of confrontation in the workplace. First, I ask whether people see women and minorities who confront a biased comment as holding a more growth mindset, and whether this might undercut the backlash women and minorities typically experience when they confront. Second, I explore how women’s social network positions shape their willingness to speak out to confront a sexist comment. I discuss the implications of this body of work for our understanding of diversity in organizations and the study of intergroup relations, and offer some practical suggestions for how to think about confronting biased comments in the workplace, if you want to.
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