Sociology Department Colloquium: Aruna Ranganathan

Thu April 7th 2022, 11:30am
Sociology Department Colloquium: Aruna Ranganathan

Please join us for a colloquium being given by Aruna Ranganathan, Associate Professor at Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.

Title: On My Own Time: Asynchronous Teamwork and Gender Differences in Performance

Abstract: Temporal restructuring of work features prominently in the future of work. In particular, teamwork is now often performed asynchronously, with members of teams working at different times by themselves rather than at the same time together. Because women in teams have traditionally been held back from performing to their full potential, it is imperative to ask: how does this shift to asynchronous teamwork affect the performance of men and women differently? In this paper, we argue that women will perform better when teamwork is asynchronous rather than synchronous, because working on their own time alone will afford them greater freedom for creative expression. We argue that men will not experience the same boost in performance, and in this way, the rise of asynchronous teamwork has the potential to reduce gender disparities in performance. We explore this question in the context of folk music ensembles in eastern India. We first collected ethnographic and interview data with folk musicians to develop our theory. We then conducted a field experiment where lead singers, both men and women, recorded a song both synchronously and asynchronously with a standard set of instrumentalists. A panel of experts later evaluated the musical output of the lead singers under both conditions. This paper contributes to scholarship on the temporal restructuring of work, performance of women in teams, and gender inequality, while also adding to the current policy conversation on the future of work.