Study reveals how stereotypes undermine diversity efforts in the workplace

Aug 9, 2023

2 min

Kyle Emich

Although they were released well before the "Barbie" movie crushed it at the box office, recent findings by a group of University of Delaware researchers could have been used as fodder for a scene in the film.

Kyle Emich, a professor of management at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, along with former UD colleagues Rachel Amey and Chad Forbes, wanted to know why women’s knowledge often gets ignored in the workplace, and how to improve that situation.

Drawing on both a problem-solving group exercise and measurements of brain activity, their findings, published by the journal Small Group Research, illustrate ways stereotypes and attitudes can stifle the benefits of diversity efforts. At the same time, the study also offers hope for solutions.

Key takeaways:

  • While women are often urged to fight for status, the onus should actually be placed on high-status men to respect and accept women’s expertise. -
  • Teams in the group exercise made up of two men and one woman were less effective. Women often struggled to speak up when they were in the minority. Also, the more minority women on these teams shared key information, the less respect they got from their team.
  • The findings, Emich and his team said, confirm the idea that a lack of respect for minorities undermines the benefit of diversity. They also argue that while the burden is often put on women to make sure they have a voice, men in power should also bear this responsibility.

Emich, who studies group dynamics and performance in work settings and examines how emotions influence cognitive processing, is available for interviews. Click on his profile below to set one up.

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Kyle Emich

Kyle Emich

Associate Professor, Management

Prof. Emich's research explores the role of individual attributes in team dynamics and other collective environments.

Cognitive ProcessingLeadershipOrganizational BehaviorTeam DynamicsGroup Dynamics

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