Andrea G. Dittmann is an Assistant Professor of Organization & Management at the Goizueta Business School. Dr. Dittmann completed her PhD in Management & Organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She studies the sources of and solutions to inequality in workplaces. In one stream of research, she focuses on how the social class contexts in which people grow up continue to shape the obstacles and strengths that they face in professional workplaces. In another stream of research, she studies how to improve police-community relationships and rebuild trust. In all her work, she ultimately seeks to harness insights from this research to develop interventions that promote equity and inclusion in organizations. Her work has been published in top academic outlets, including the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Her work has been covered by media outlets including the Harvard Business Review, Politico, and the Christian Science Monitor. Most recently, she has been investigating how the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected people from lower (vs. higher) social class contexts across a number of important life domains, including work, social relationships and mental health.
Northwestern University: PhD, Management & Organizations
St. Olaf College: BA, Psychology
Areas of Expertise (6)
Diversity and Inequality
Social Class and Inequality
Intergroup and Interpersonal processes
Research: How Our Class Background Affects the Way We CollaborateHarvard Business Review
Andrea G. Dittmann, Nicole M. Stephens, and Sarah S. M. Townsend
Research shows that interdependent teamwork — focusing on a group’s collective expertise and skills — enables Americans from lower social class backgrounds to shine. But organizations tend to prioritize, value, and reward independent work, which can prevent these employees (and the teams they work on) from truly flourishing. To realize the benefits of interdependent team work for all employees, focus on three areas: ensuring teams are working on interdependent tasks; training all team members to work interdependently; and to outwardly value interdependent teamwork.
What Can We Do to Interrupt Inequality?Psychology Today
Andrea G. Dittmann
First-generation college graduates are less likely to be hired and advance to leadership roles than those whose parents went to college, research suggests. But studies indicate that people from working-class backgrounds tend to have strengths that organizations would do well to recognize. These strengths may include social responsiveness, resilience, and increased ability to collaborate in teams.
How Focusing on Individual Achievement Favors the Upper ClassBehavioral Scientist
Andrea G. Dittmann
In the United States, we often take for granted that the best or right way to assess people’s skills and abilities is through individual standards of achievement. In essence, we assess all people as though they were cross-country runners, when many might actually be basketball players—or soccer players, or football players, or a whole host of players from different sports! It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, in other cultures, people sometimes use a very different standard of achievement: how well people work together. Building upon this idea, Nicole Stephens, Sarah Townsend, and I investigated whether how we assess achievement—as individuals or as we work together in groups—might help to explain a key disparity that has been documented time and again: the social class achievement gap in the U.S.
In the News (8)
The Next Atlanta: Breaking Barriers to Upward Mobility
FOX 5 Atlanta tv
This is a painful time for our country. Injustice and inequality are just some of the challenges we face. Nobody knows exactly what the next Atlanta will look like, but we need to talk about it. Host George Chidi talks with Prof. Andrea Dittmann on what research has to say about how to increase upward mobility.
Emory Celebrates Black History Month with Community-Focused Panel Discussions
Emory Business online
Join the Office of the Provost in celebrating Black History Month through the extraordinary research, creativity, and diversity of Emory’s faculty. Featuring Goizueta’s Andrea Dittmann, assistant professor of organization and management. Dittmann will share insight into her research on how the social-class contexts in which people grow up shape their obstacles and strengths in professional workplaces.
Embracing the power of non-traditional hires
Working-class people are more accustomed to working together, and in many cases this makes them better at it. Recent experiments led by Andrea Dittmann and co-authors found that college students from working-class backgrounds bested middle-class students at participating in and facilitating teamwork. Research also shows that Black Americans respond better to adversity — perhaps because they have more experience with it. Managers from non-traditional backgrounds often know more about the people their companies serve, which is essential. Stacy Brown-Philpot, the former CEO of TaskRabbit, was motivated by the prospect of getting jobs back into her hometown of Detroit: “I grew up with people who were hardworking, whose jobs were taken away from them…And here’s this platform that’s creating everyday work for everyday People.” Howard Schultz, who grew up in a housing project, showed how a massive chain like Starbucks could provide generous employee benefits and remain a booming business.
Here's How to Break Through the Class Ceiling
Poets & Quants online
As colleges and universities admit more first-generation students and students from historically underserved minority and working-class families, many of them find it challenging to meet college’s more rigorous academic demands. But they may find it even more difficult to handle the “culture shock” at institutions whose norms and values may be very different from the ones in which they were raised.
The unseen reason working-class students drop out
We’ve figured out why it’s so hard for first-generation students to succeed in college. The good news is there are easy fixes.
Why Companies Should Add Class to Their Diversity Discussions
Harvard Business Review online
Class background matters in the workplace. Just ask professionals who grew up in blue-collar households — people scholars call “class migrants.” Class migrants are finding their voice: 97% of individuals from working-class backgrounds reported that their social class background affected their work experience, according to research conducted by Andrea G. Dittmann, Nicole M. Stephens, Sarah S. M. Townsend, and Lauren A. Rivera. We can no longer afford to refuse to acknowledge the role that class plays in the workplace.
Ivy degree – now what? Low-income grads struggle with careers, status
Christian Science Monitor online
New research backs up the idea that low-income first gens experience familiar economic, social, and cultural barriers when they get to the workplace. Nicole Stephens and Andrea Dittmann at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and Sarah Townsend at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California interviewed 30 first-generation MBA students about the college-to-work transition prior to business school.
Research: How You Feel About Individualism Is Influenced by Your Social Class
Harvard Business Review online
The good news is that this social class gap in experience and performance is not static. When colleges include messages about the importance of interdependence, students from working-class backgrounds benefit. In the series of experiments described above, we also showed students a college welcome message that focused on either independence or interdependence (for example, giving back to your community). In the interdependent condition, first-generation students felt just as comfortable and performed just as well on an academic task as their peers from middle- and upper-class backgrounds. Further, with doctoral student Andrea Dittmann, our analysis of archival data of college sports teams showed that people from working-class backgrounds report greater fit with the team and ability to perform up to their potential when participating in teams that prioritize interdependence.