ANNOUNCEMENT: I am currently accepting students to work in my research lab! If you are interested in joining the lab, please email me a completed application (download here). You can learn more about the lab by reading below and by visiting the lab website.
My research examines the social-psychological processes that contribute to social inequality as well as social change. Click here to watch a video about an intervention for increasing awareness of sexism. In addition to developing and testing sexism interventions, I also examine the following research questions:
How do people interpret and explain social inequality (and with what consequences)?
Disparities between social groups exist across a variety of important outcomes. For example, men are overrepresented in top leadership positions, women are overrepresented in caretaking positions, and white Americans on average have higher educational attainment and income than black Americans. How do people come to understand and explain these group disparities? How do these explanations help maintain social inequality rather than motivate social justice efforts? In answering these questions, I focus on how social ideologies that seem virtuous on the surface - such as beliefs in the American Dream - can actually serve to sustain inequality by making existing status relations appear natural and justified. I also examine the effectiveness of interventions designed to disrupt the justification processes that sustain social inequality.
How do subtle situational cues contribute to group disparities in achievement domains?
Environments are filled with subtle cues about how we might be treated by and fit in with others based on our social identity (e.g., gender, race-ethnicity, age, social class, etc.). For members of
negatively stereotyped or stigmatized groups, seemingly innocuous cues can signify that one’s social identity is devalued or does not belong in the setting. For example, an underrepresentation of women on the websites of science departments may signal to potential students that the department is not woman-friendly. This program of research aims to identify the cues that shape
people’s perceptions about whether their treatment, fit, and success in an environment will be contingent on their social identity. I also examine how these cues contribute to group disparities – particularly gender disparities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) domains – as well as interventions to mitigate these negative effects and promote inclusive environments.
What are the consequences of positioning some groups as the norm and other groups as
deviating from prevailing norms?
Certain identities in our society are privileged as the implicit standard to which all other identities are compared. In particular, male, white, and heterosexual identities are positioned as the norm, whereas other identities are viewed as gender-, ethnic-, and sexual-specific deviations or special cases of the human condition. This means that a typical person is assumed to be male, white, and heterosexual unless indicated otherwise. My research examines how these normative assumptions are subtly expressed in everyday communication and their role in maintaining and reproducing social inequalities. In particular, I examine how normative assumptions lead people to mark the gender of women (but not men) and whether this pattern of asymmetrical gender-marking is consequential for gender inequality.
Interested in getting involved? Learn more by visiting the Subtle Bias Lab website.