Reducing Gender Biases in Modern Workplaces: A Small Wins Approach to Organizational Change

Gender & Society

The accumulation and advancement of gender scholarship over past decades has led us to the point where gender scholars today can leverage our deep understanding of the reproduction of gender inequality to develop and test models of change. In this lecture, I present one such model designed to reduce the negative effects of stereotypic biases on women’s workplace outcomes. After synthesizing the literature on stereotyping and bias and showing the limits of past change efforts, I develop a “small wins” model of change. Key to this model is that researchers work with teams of managers to produce concrete, implementable actions that produce visible results. I argue that small wins motivate further action and are the building blocks to larger organizational transformation. Preliminary results from several case studies show that this approach can produce important changes in the short run, such as reducing gender biases in workplace evaluations, and that these small wins can inspire longer run change, such as increases in the rate of hiring women.