Ambiguous Bias

Mentor: Dr. Laura Doering

Dr. Laura Doering

Project Description

Large-scale surveys and audit studies demonstrate that lower-status groups (women, racial minorities, etc.) experience bias in the workplace. Yet individuals often struggle to determine whether any potentially-biased event was, in fact, discriminatory. For example, when a woman is passed up for a promotion at work, she may wonder: Was I passed up because I’m a woman, or because of a personal weakness? This uncertainty may lead her to ruminate on the experience, feel frustrated, and potentially become less engaged at work.

In this study, we consider how “ambiguous bias” events shape women’s experiences at work. We compare women’s responses to ambiguous bias with their responses to explicit bias (e.g., overt sexual harassment). We ask: How do ambiguous and explicit bias events shape women’s feelings towards the jobs and expectations for their careers? How do women respond differently to ambiguous versus explicit bias (e.g., keeping the experience private versus reporting it to HR)?

We will explore these questions through a mixed-method study that includes qualitative interviews and a quantitative component (either a survey or a field experiment). As a team of sociologists, we examine how individual-level experiences aggregate to pattern outcomes in organizations and markets.

As a member of the research team, you will learn about research that integrates qualitative and quantitative data to link individual experiences with organization-level outcomes. You will advance the project by conducting literature reviews and analyzing qualitative or quantitative data (depending on your interest).

Mentorship Statement

Mentoring students is one the great joys of my job. I love supporting students in developing their research skills and helping to launch them on the exciting paths they pursue post-graduation. I have been fortunate to work with a team of excellent research assistants in the past. Many of my RAs have gone on to graduate school or to conduct applied research in organizations. I look forward to working with a student in the SROP program as he or she learns about the research process and considers how it might shape their future.

Project ID 928