Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School
With gender equality increasingly a business imperative, in addition to being a human right, many leaders across the sectors wonder how we can get there. In this seminar, Professor Bohnet discusses her forthcoming book What Works: Gender Equality, By Design (Harvard University Press 2016) reviews the impact of what we have been doing to date (e.g., diversity and leadership training, networks and mentorship/sponsorship) and proposes a new approach to leveling the playing field and helping organizations get it right, building on insights from Behavioral Economics. It argues that to overcome gender bias in organizations and society, we should focus on de-biasing systems (e.g., how we evaluate performance, hire, promote, structure tests, form groups, etc.) rather than on trying to de-bias people. Behavioral Economics incorporates insights from psychology and economics and draws on evidence, often derived from experiments, to understand what works. It has been used to inform decision-making and policy-making in many different domains, ranging from consumer finance to energy consumption to voting. The book applies it to organizational design to promote and benefit from gender equality, building on research conducted around the world, much of it curated in the Women and Public Policy Program’s searchable online platform, the Gender Action Portal (GAP).