Dr. Kristen Jones' research featured thrice in Harvard Business Review

For release:  November 1, 2016

Dr. Kristen Jones', assistant professor in the Department of Management, research has been featured thrice in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) this year. Her research appeared in HBR's "diversity," "gender," and "psychology" sections, respectively.

Dr. Jones' first online article was entitled "Why Subtle Bias Is So Often Worse Than Blatant Discrimination." She co-authored this piece with Dr. Eden King, George Mason University.

The article summarized the findings of their meta-analysis (recently published in the Journal of Management) examining how subtle discrimination affects employees and their performance at work. To test the relative effects of subtle and overt discrimination, the authors analyzed studies that examined relationships between discrimination and outcomes such as career success and satisfaction, stress, turnover, performance, and physical and mental health symptoms. Results of this meta-analysis confirmed that experiencing any kind of discrimination has negative consequences. But more importantly, the results showed that across every job and individual outcome, the effects of subtle discrimination were at least as bad as, if not worse than, overt discrimination.

Click here to read the entire piece.

Dr. Jones' second online article was entitled "Stop 'protecting' women from challenging work." This article was also co-authored with Dr. King.

The article examined how past research demonstrates that prejudice toward women can take obvious and not-so-obvious forms. In this article, the authors summarized several of their research studies showing that this latter benevolent form of sexism is exceptionally damaging, particularly in the workplace. Taken together, their research suggested that women are more likely to receive protective and paternalistic behaviors at work that result in women receiving less challenging work assignments (despite comparable levels of interest in challenging work) and less constructive criticism (which is essential for performance and learning). While such attempts to protect or coddle women may have seemed "nice" on the surface, these protective behaviors actually made it more difficult for women to advance. Furthermore, the author's research showed that unwanted help or protection can undermine women's self-confidence, making them feel worse about their capabilities. Yet, many of these problems have clear solutions. Attempts to support women at work may be most effective when they occur in response to a request, when they enable rather than restrict autonomy, and when they are negotiated through discussion.

Click here to read the entire piece.

Dr. Jones' third online article was entitled "The right and wrong ways to help pregnant workers." Dr. Jones co-authored the article with Dr. Judy Clair, Boston College, Dr. Eden King, George Mason University, and Dr. Beth K. Humberd, University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Pregnancy reflects a common experience for women in today's workforce, yet recent data suggest that some women scale back or leave the workforce altogether following the birth of a child. In this article, the authors reviewed research findings from a study that they conducted in which they explored a paradoxical reason for weakened postpartum career attitudes: that the help women receive during pregnancy may actually hurt their careers. The results of their longitudinal survey of 120 women showed that helping received by pregnant women at work increases women's intentions to quit after the birth of their child. Consistent with the predictions of the threat-to-self-esteem model, these effects were transmitted through helping's depressive effect on self-efficacy during pregnancy. This does not mean employees should not try to help their pregnant coworkers; rather these findings suggest that workplace supports designed to help pregnant employees should increase, rather than decrease, pregnant employees' confidence in their abilities to manage the demands of work and non-work roles. Supporting pregnant workers is not a one-size-fits-all approach and the quality of support received during pregnancy could make the difference in retaining top female talent long-term.

Click here to read the entire piece.

"The Department of Management and Fogelman College of Business and Economics are extremely pleased to see Dr. Jones' scholarly work featured in the Harvard Business Review," said Dr. Chuck Pierce, chair of the Department of Management. "This is an incredible accomplishment and we are delighted to have her on our faculty. Congratulations, Dr. Jones!"