We are pleased to support the research of UC Berkeley faculty and PhD students who are examining topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Contact Zena Barakat for more information.
Can’t or Won’t? How Beliefs about Trait Immutability Impact Women’s Entry into Leadership Positions
Gender disparities in leadership remain a persistent challenge even in the most egalitarian societies and well-meaning organizations. In explaining why this inequality exists—and persists—past research has pointed to the “Big Two” or that tend to describe how men and women are stereotypically seen by others. On the one hand, men are seen has high in “agency,” a set of traits related to individualism, achievement and mastery, while women are seen as highly “communal,” prioritizing connection, cohesion, and warmth (Abele, 2003; Abele & Wojciszke, 2007; Martin & Slepian, 2021). In the proposed research, we suggest that it is not only the quality of the traits themselves that predict their importance. Rather, we suggest that asymmetric beliefs in the immutability or malleability of agency and communality differentially predict their value. Specifically, we hypothesize that agentic traits are believed to be more immutable—and therefore more valuable—than communal traits.
The Promise of Ranked Choice Voting: Overcoming Electability Concerns to Increase Votes for Underrepresented Candidates
This research aims to examine the role of electability concerns in voting decisions. We find that voters have greater concerns about electability for under-represented political candidates, which can influence their voting decisions and undermine the potential for these candidates to succeed. We will test whether an alternative voting system – Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)– can mitigate the influence of electability concerns on voters, thereby increasing support for under-represented candidates. RCV allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If one’s top candidate fails to secure enough votes, their vote may be allocated to their subsequent choice, potentially reducing the need for strategic voting. We will experimentally test the impact of candidate demographics on electability concerns, the influence of such concerns on voting decisions, and the potential of RCV in alleviating electability concerns. This research highlights the prospective power of voting reform in promoting more balanced political representation.
The Psychology of Welfare: How Group Identity and Policy Delivery Mechanism Influence Support for Redistributive Social Policy
The federal government spends 40% more on economic programs for the wealthy (“wealthfare”) than the poor (“welfare”). While “wealthfare” policies are generally delivered through the tax system, many of the policies Americans consider “welfare” come in the form of cash-based direct expenditures–and this division has meaningful consequences. Recent work from our lab shows that advantaged group members misperceive redistribution as more harmful to them than it actually is. Furthermore, as losses loom larger in people’s minds than gains, they may see direct-payments by the government as more impactful, and thus less appealing, than tax-credits. In the present context, we hope to better understand how individual and group identity predict support for–or opposition to–policies designed to downwardly distribute economic resources. Further, how do the identity of the beneficiary (i.e. race and socio-economic status) as well as the policy delivery mechanism (direct-spending vs. tax-based) moderate this support?
Leveraging Diffusion Models and Online Reinforcement Learning for Personalized Advertisement Design
The research objective is to create an AI-driven tool using reinforcement learning for personalized ads, with a primary focus on significantly reducing ad design costs and promoting fairness in business opportunities. By democratizing access to effective advertising, this research aims to address economic inequalities and advance diversity and inclusion in advertising, especially for underrepresented groups and small businesses, and enhance the representation and well-being of marginalized communities. Furthermore, personalized ads, through precise targeting and inclusive imagery, aim to address underrepresentation, foster economic accessibility for small businesses, empower inexperienced marketers, and contribute to improved psychological well-being by challenging harmful societal norms.
"Call me when you get home": new technologies, and the safety gender gap
We study how the perception of low public safety leads to gender gaps in a wide set of dimensions, from educational outcomes to choices regarding how to spend free time in the UK. We also jointly investigate whether and how the gender gap can be reduced using a new technology: a mobile safety app. This app enables users to make calls while in public spaces. We randomly assign a sample of students at the London School of Economics to either the mobile safety app or a placebo app. We expect the mobile safety app will expand women’s choices and decrease the gender gap in time spent at the library, gym, and social work events.
Joan Jennifer Martinez
Gender Stereotype Training Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from a Large-Scale School Program
We sutdy how a gender stereotype training program affects high school seniors’ job preferences for analytical or service-oriented internships. Over a semester-long in-person course, 250 Peruvian high schools will teach students cognitive-emotional content and actionable strategies to combat gender stereotypes that distort their perception of their abilities as gender-specific. By collecting rich survey data, we can quantify baseline and endline gender differences in perceived abilities for gender-conforming tasks, whose malleability we want to assess. We can estimate the moderating effect of objective and self-perceived differences in women’s and men’s abilities on the selection of gender-conforming jobs and their effects on real-world outcomes by linking the intervention to a job choice model. The findings suggest how student-based policies can close gender gaps in the workforce.
Can dictatorships improve women’s representation? Evidence from Chile’s democratic transition
Transitions from dictatorship to democracy can help us understand how various political contexts can favor marginalized groups in gaining representation. This project investigates the effects of Chile’s transition from dictatorship to democracy on gender representation. During Chile’s dictatorship (1973 to 1990), dictator Augusto Pinochet suspended the constitution and appointed mayors to each municipality. During the dictatorship’s final years, women made up nearly 20% of the designated mayors. When democratic elections were held, the percentage of women fell by about 15 percentage points. This paper will study the long-term impact of women’s exclusion following the dictatorship for political representation of women and public policies.
Whose voice is it anyways? Voice Solicitation decisions in the context of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
To ensure that initiatives to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are effectively implemented, managers oftentimes need to solicit their employee’s voices – in other words, ask for their employees to provide thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or input about how to address DEI. Although voice solicitation research has primarily focused on emphasizing the value of soliciting voice, having one’s voice solicited about a topic as contentious as DEI may be a fraught experience. In turn, soliciting an employee’s voice about DEI may risk undermining solicited employees’ sense of belonging in the organization. It is important, then, to understand managers’ psychology when determining whose voice to solicit – and the consequences for the targets they choose.