ESS Newsletter: December 2022

Welcome from ESS Director

Dr. Toni Schmader, Ph.D.

Heading into the 2022/2023 winter season, the Engendering Success in STEM consortium is now well into our sixth year. Since June, each of our four project teams have made new discoveries and are writing up findings. Project CLIMB has created new methods to measure children’s stereotypes about science. Project PRISM is working to get into schools to collect data on its intervention study, and Project SINC is exploring psychological and physiological experiences of engineering students. Project RISE released a report of promising key findings from their Inclusive Innovation Training and is continuing collaborations with new and existing industry partners.

In this newsletter, we also feature several other consortium activities. We are proud to announce that the ESS EDI initiative Quant-TIDE, developed and led by Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould, took place virtually from August 8-12th. We received very positive feedback from the participants and are looking for ways to continue Quant-TIDE in the future. In addition, on November 17-18th, we hosted the 2022 ESS Consortium Annual Meeting over Zoom. The meeting featured compelling talks and discussion with invited speakers from across North America and research presentations by ESS postdoctoral student Jackie Koyama and graduate student, Audrey Aday.  To watch the talks, click on the links in the agenda HERE.

Save the date – November 16-17, 2023! We are very excited to confirm that after three years of virtual meetings, we will be hosting an in-person ESS Knowledge Sharing Conference in partnership with the Institute for Gender and the Economy next fall. Open to the broader community of partners and researchers, Day 1 will feature talks from keynote speakers followed by a reception. Day 2 will consist of project group meetings with partners in the morning and ESS internal meetings in the afternoon. The event will take place at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Stay tuned for more details in the new year!

In this newsletter, we welcome several new graduate student members of the consortium and provide profiles on two former Ph.D. students who have moved into full-time academic positions: Joyce He, Assistant Professor at Anderson School of Management, UCLA, and Katie Kroeper, now an Assistant Professor at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. We also extend our congratulations to those consortium members who have won awards and have been recognized for the impactful work they are doing! A full list of ESS members’ talks, media interviews, publications, and new white papers are also summarized in this newsletter.

Check out to read our newest white papers, and follow us on Twitter (@ess_consortium) or Facebook (@ESSConsortium) to keep up to date on the latest consortium news and research findings. We wish you and your loved ones a beautiful and restful holiday season and an invigorated start to 2023!

ESS Partner Spotlight:
The Institute for Gender & the Economy (GATE)

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

What is the Institute for Gender and the Economy?

The Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) operates out of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto on the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the New Credit. GATE promotes an understanding of gender inequalities and how they can be remedied, by people of all genders, in the world of business and, more broadly, in the economy.

How did GATE come to be?

“… I woke up one day in 2016 and said ‘why have we not made more progress?’… I have to do this as my day job and not just something to think about on the side…. I founded the Institute for Gender and the Economy to go back to the research and find out what do we actually really know about gender and inequality and how can we use that rigorous research to change the conversation…” 
– Dr. Sarah Kaplan

Who is Dr. Sarah Kaplan?

Dr. Sarah Kaplan has been widely published in major academic and media outlets and has authored best-selling books including Creative Destruction and her recently published, The 360° Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation. In 2021, the Governance Professionals of Canada awarded her the Peter Dey Governance Achievement Award, and in 2022, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women Executive Network.

Renowned in academia and industry for tackling the world’s most persistent problems in creating an innovative, gender-inclusive and socially responsible economy, Kaplan was invited to speak recently in front of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology regarding the role of gender based analysis (GBA+) in the policy process for Bill C-25. Link to the video below to watch Dr. Kaplan’s opening remarks and full testimony, and/or read her opening remarks HERE

What are the strategies employed by GATE that contribute to advancing gender equality with companies and organizations and the economy more broadly?

GATE uses rigorous research to change the conversation on gender equality by:

  • Investigating the hidden mechanisms that propagate gender equality
  • Funding, translating, and disseminating innovative, academic research
  • Engaging executives, policy makers, and students to create new solutions for achieving equality, advancing careers, and creating economic prosperity


In a few short years, GATE has built a strong foundation for bringing key gender insights to impact through game-changing guidance on how to build a better and more inclusive society for tomorrow. GATE plays a key role in bridging our societal gap in knowledge about gender inequality and its remedies. Using gender analysis, GATE informs and inspires innovative business practices in the short-term, while guiding equitable and effective policy development over the longer term.

How does GATE facilitate connecting research outcomes to organizations and decision-makers?

GATE supports rigorous research that will advance our understanding of the dynamics of gender and the economy and works hard to make actionable and accessible research insights available to organizational leaders. They also host many events, and are often featured in media and external events that bring insights on gender and the economy to life for practitioners.

GATE offers educational programs that train current and future leaders to design policies, organizations, and products for equality, and they are actively engaged in community building, highlighting ways that employees, leaders, and organizations can get involved in changing the conversation on gender equality.
Read this post by GATE summarizing a public event they had on Closing the Gender Gap in STEM.


What GATE events coming up in 2023 might interest members of the ESS Consortium?

GATE along with the TD Management and Data Analytics Lab (TD MDAL) are co-hosting the first Gender Analytics: Possibilities (GA:P) conference on April 27-28, 2023.

This conference provides a forum for leaders and innovators from academia, the private sector, government, and non-profits to come together to share learnings and capitalize on insights for designing more inclusive products, services and policies using intersectional gender-based analyses.  


To stay connected with GATE, sign-up to their newsletter to hear about research, events, and education.

To follow Sarah Kaplan on social media, visit her LinkedIn or Twitter @sarah_kaplan.

Thank you to Dr. Kaplan and GATE for sharing their inspirational vision
for changing the conversation on gender equality!



Consortium Member Profile:

Joyce He, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor, Anderson School of Management at UCLA

We spoke with Dr. He to learn more about how her research relates to ESS and EDI initiatives more broadly…

Please tell us a little about your field of study, and what was the path that led you to be interested in this area?

I received my PhD in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, and I am currently a professor of Management & Organizations and Behavioral Decision-Making at UCLA Anderson. Broadly speaking, my field of study is in Organizational Behavior (OB), which is a very broad, multidisciplinary field that draws from Psychology, Sociology, Economics, etc. to understand individual and group level behavior in Organizations.


One of the things I love most about OB is how interdisciplinary it is, and as a PhD student I remember reading broadly across disciplines to see how different disciplines have complementary perspectives on the same research questions, and I’ve adopted that approach in my research too. In terms of how I got here, I actually started out as an English major as an undergrad minoring in Psychology — but I began to develop a strong interest in Social Psychology throughout those years. I eventually joined a few Psychology labs to do research, which I also loved, but found myself wanting to know the “so what?” about this research – in terms of behavioral outcomes and downstream consequences that had practical implications. That’s what led me eventually to pursue my PhD and career in OB!

What are you currently working on within the ESS research team as an Assistant Professor at UCLA Anderson?

One thing I’ve been working on, carried over from when I was a student member of the ESS research team in SINC, is about engineering culture within undergraduate engineering students. This is joint work with my fellow SINC team members Will Hall, Jackie Koyama, and Sonia Kang. I think one of the most exciting and unique things about this paper is that we take an inductive, qualitative approach — rather than using surveys and online experiments with pre-determined hypotheses, we conducted focus groups and interviews to build a theory about engineering culture from the ground up. What we uncovered in this project was a  “culture of suffering” within the engineering community at the university — a culture characterized by difficult course work and tremendous course load, dependence on social validation and commiseration about the course load, strong identification with engineering, all taking place within a very isolated, insular engineering community.


Although past research shows that strong identification with a professional identity (i.e., engineering) can increase belonging by highlighting a common identity across differences by personal identities (e.g., gender, race, etc.), we find in this case that strong reliance with the collective engineering community may unintentionally perpetuate inequality. Specifically, this strong identification resulted in engineering students’ parroting of cultural narratives of inclusion and meritocracy within the community, and defending the community against any notion of gender bias. For women, this came at the expense of downplaying their lived experiences as women such that women turned a blind eye to instances of bias or differential treatment based on their gender identity in order to maintain and protect their sense of belonging to this superordinate collective community. Ultimately, this perpetuated an echo chamber within the engineering community that reinforced and maintained surface-level cultural narratives of inclusion and meritocracy that ironically allowed for a deep-level culture of masculinity, reactance, denial, and gender bias to exist and persist without being questioned or brought to light. Right now, we are focusing on writing up this paper for submission for publication at a Management journal.

How do you see your research as applying to gender inclusion and diversity more broadly?

My research focuses on taking a systemic approach to understanding gender inequality — both in terms of why individual-level efforts (unconscious bias training, the “Lean In” approach) is not sufficient, but also what organizations can do to make systemic changes that can move the needle on this persistent societal problem. In some of my past work, I found that that women manage impressions of their gender for male-dominated jobs by using less feminine language in their cover letters, in part because they anticipate gender discrimination from employers. In turn, these attempts to overcome bias ironically leads to less favorable hiring outcomes because they violate expectations about how women are expected to self-present.


My findings show that individual efforts to overcome bias (i.e., by managing impressions of gender) are ineffective in closing the gender gap when the system presents a tricky double-bind that penalizes women’s behavior no matter what they do. This in turn inspired my dissertation work and a lot of my other ongoing work which focuses on how we can fix the “system” itself. Specifically, I incorporate Behavioral Insights/Nudges and organizational design principles to examine how organizations can make structural changes (i.e., changing the design of promotional processes and reframing language in job advertisements) to reduce the impact of biases in personnel selection processes. So generally, I would say I’m interested in investigating mechanisms for why gender inequality is perpetuated, but also how we can fix the problem!

You were awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal in recognition of your academic excellence! The Governor General’s Award is the highest honours available to graduate students in Canada. Can you tell us a little bit about your research that was recognized for this tremendous accomplishment?

Yes! I was so surprised, grateful, and honored to receive this accolade! This was based on my dissertation research which is very in line with this idea of “how can we fix the system” thinking when it comes to gender inequality. In my dissertation, I argue that most promotions typically require self-nomination and entry into competition via an application. However, this “opt-in” process might result in fewer women choosing to compete because of gendered association with competition and self-promotion.


Drawing on Behavioral insights and the choice architecture literature, I proposed a simple, inexpensive, and effective solution using the concept of default bias: whether changing promotion schemes from a default where applicants must opt-in (i.e., self-nominate) to a default where applicants must opt-out (in which those who pass a qualification threshold are automatically considered for promotion, but can choose not to be considered) will attenuate gender differences in participation. In a series of lab and online experiments, I found that whereas we observe gender differences in participation in competitive selection processes (like promotions) under an opt-in scheme (up to as much as a 25% gap in the absence of performance differences between women and men), this gender gap is eliminated when the choice to compete is described using opt-out framing.


Fun fact — I was on the fence about applying to this highly prestigious award, but I took advice from my own decision to “opt-in”, and it paid off!

You have had a busy last year, moving from Toronto to Los Angeles to begin your position at UCLA Anderson and getting married! How was that experience moving across North America during a pandemic, and what are your impressions so far of living in Los Angeles?

It’s been a crazy couple of years with lots of huge life and career transitions! The move was intense because we had to make that choice to move there and to find a place to live without having any chance to see the city for ourselves in person, since at the time the US-Canada border was closed. But it’s proven to be an amazing choice — we love the sunny weather, amazing food, and beautiful campus. Except, maybe just the traffic, and I do miss the snow sometimes!


Consortium Member Profile:

Katie Kroeper, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor, Sacred Heart University

We spoke with Dr. Kroeper to learn more about her research and recent move to pursue an Assistant Professor position at Sacred Heart University…


What are you currently working on, or planning to work on, related to ESS research goals and activities?

I’m working on a few projects related to ESS goals, but there’s one that I’m especially excited about! With Steve Spencer, I’ve been developing and validating a new, easy-to-use self-report measure of social identity threat concerns. Some of you might remember, I presented an early version of this work at last year’s ESS meeting. Since then, we’ve collected a great deal more data (9 studies; N=5,763).


Let me start with some background. Social identity threat emerges in contexts where people expect to be devalued or mistreated because of their social identities (e.g., their gender, race). For example, a woman’s gender identity may be especially salient and socially meaningful to her in places where women are numerically underrepresented (like physics classrooms). She stands out in these settings, so it makes sense for her to worry about being stereotyped, marginalized, or disrespected due to her gender. As we all know, the ESS mission is to foster women’s inclusion and success in STEM. To understand, affirm, and improve the experiences of women (as well as the experiences of people of color, nonbinary and queer folx), it is critical to have valid and precise measures of social identity threat concerns. But surprisingly, there is no consensus self-report measure of identity threat.


So, my goal with the SITC Inventory has been to develop an easy-to-use, modifiable measure that captures identity-related concerns validly and precisely. Across all studies so far, the SITC Inventory demonstrates high internal consistency reliability, and it predicts theoretically meaningful outcomes, like context avoidance and distress. We’ve assessed identity threat concerns relevant to numerous social identities (e.g., gender, race, sexuality, nationality, class, political orientation) and social contexts (e.g., school, work, church, leisure settings). And we’ve used correlational and experimental methods, in both laboratory and field settings.


To me, this work is exciting and relevant to the ESS Consortium for a couple of reasons: Theoretically, having a valid, reliable social identity threat self-report measure furthers understanding of how contexts can influence people’s visceral experiences of their social identities. Practically speaking, this self-report measure could be leveraged in intervention research to identify and root out harmful and unfair norms, policies, and practices that perpetuate and compound social disadvantage. So, I have many high hopes for this line of work!

Is there an area(s) of study that interests you that you haven’t explored and would like to someday?

This is a great question. I’m a new-ish mom. My son is only 18 months old. As I’ve been navigating motherhood, I’ve become more and more interested in how people balance motherhood and career. Specifically, what are the mindsets and situational affordances that support a mother’s success in both these roles? If anyone else in the ESS is interested in this topic, please reach out. I’d love to collaborate.

You’ve had a busy couple of years, having a child and then moving from Columbus, Ohio to begin your position at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut! How was that experience moving to the northeast, and what are your impressions so far of living in Connecticut?

I’m from the northeast originally, so this most recent move was a return home! For the first time in 8 years, I’m within driving distance of my parents and it’s been great. I love seeing my son bond with his grandparents. And working at Sacred Heart has been a dream for me. I have great colleagues, with a lot of collaboration potential. They also care deeply about work-life balance. So, they support the whole me: my research, my teaching, and me as a person, beyond the work. I feel very lucky and grateful.