UD Lerner Female Faculty Reflect on Women’s History Month | Lerner
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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics

By Jen Hendrickson March 30, 2022

The female faculty at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics are scholars, teachers, mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters. As researchers, they also represent some of the most important voices in their field of study who are helping businesses, governments and consumers worldwide with actionable research. As professors, they are leading some of Lerner’s important programs such as the Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Lerner Diversity Council, and advising student organizations such as Women in Business, Women in Finance and Women in Economics. Together with all members of the Lerner faculty, they are responsible for guiding the next generation of business leaders.

On this last day of Women’s History Month, we’ve asked a few of our female faculty members about their research, what Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day mean to them and what they believe a more diverse, equitable and inclusive business world would look like.

Julia Bayuk, Associate Professor of Business Administration

My research centers around improving consumer well-being, primarily understanding how planning in goal pursuit can help or hinder goal achievement. I am also really interested in financial vulnerability, moral decision making and other areas where individuals may not know or realize the best path(s) to take to make themselves or society better off.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Bayuk: For many women in the United States, International Women’s Day wasn’t something they were born with – but for me it was. As a child in Ukraine, it was the celebration of women. Women got flowers, candy and attention. Growing up in the Philadelphia area of the United States, in a community of many immigrants and refugees from the former Soviet Union, this holiday continued to be important – my mother and grandmothers got flowers from me each year on this day and I would take them out for a celebration. As I think about #BreaktheBias, it’s really about changing the symbolism behind this holiday. It’s not just about making a woman feel special on this given day, but rather about celebrating the accomplishments of women, helping them open more doors and break ceilings, and not just on March 8th, but every day.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Bayuk: Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, as individuals. A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive allows individuals (regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) to utilize their strengths and contribute in areas that are important to them. I think it’s important for our society to realize the many hurdles women (specifically, as it’s International Women’s Day) have to jump through and how little accommodations are often made for women in the workplace, especially who have families and often end up the primary caretakers, often limiting their chances of advancement.

Sabrin Beg, Assistant Professor of Economics

My research focus is on economic development with a primary area of expertise in economic history, political economy and applied microeconomics.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Beg:  A lot of things…. to me it stands for breaking the bias (or alternately achieving equality) in the roles, the standards for assessing performance, the aspirations, the expectations, the perceptions, the standards for acceptable behavior and the opportunities for achieving one’s dreams for men versus women. And these biases emerge for very young males and females, so we must work to #BreakTheBias for young girls as well.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Beg: When I think of this I reflect on everyday experiences in my life. I think of the video on my social media feed earlier this month of a young boy dancing carelessly to celebrate the win of his team at the Pakistan Super League (a popular cricket event). The video is trending with many likes and views and is certainly refreshing and enjoyable to watch; but, I imagine a young girl doing the same would arouse an entirely opposite and negative response from the public. I think of the adolescent daughter of my friends in Pennsylvania, who is anxious about getting teased for wearing a hijab at school. I think of the sample from one of my studies in Odisha, India where many children are marginalized in school as instruction is not offered in their mother tongue. I think of recent news from Mardan, Pakistan where the authorities of a local sports complex banned female athletes from playing at the facilities. And I think of my many female friends who are productive workers in one of the most progressive economies of the world but are faced with stricter social and professional standards every day of their lives.

In a better and more inclusive world, I would not think of these things.

Amanda Bullough, Associate Professor of Management and Research Director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative

My research has largely focused on global and women’s entrepreneurship and more recently on global culture, gender and leadership.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Bullough: A world that is equitable and without discrimination.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Bullough: When women all over the world have a fair shot at freedom, success and leadership.

Lerner: Anything else you’d like to add about the importance of Women’s History Month or International Women’s Day?

Bullough: It is still sometimes crazy to me that the women’s suffrage movement started in the United States in the mid-1800s and women didn’t win the right to vote until 1920 for their own country’s leaders. It took 70 years to pass something that seems like such a basic human right in this country now. The women who pursued this, many of whom never lived to see the successes of their efforts, should be celebrated forever throughout history, and these rights should never be taken for granted.

Laura Casares Field, Donald J. Puglisi Professor of Finance and Department Chair of Finance

My research focus is in corporate governance. I love studying issues in corporate governance. Lately, I’ve been studying women on corporate boards.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Field: In my research on corporate governance and the makeup of corporate boards, I found that even when corporate boards include directors who are women and/or racial minorities, these diverse directors are significantly less likely to serve in positions of leadership. This is despite the fact that diverse directors are more likely to possess stronger qualifications.

#BreaktheBias can help bring more awareness to this disparity. It can hold corporations worldwide accountable and encourage them to reexamine the composition of their boards and leadership positions and move to a more diverse and inclusive structure.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Field: In the business world, we’ve seen increasing calls from institutional investors and regulators for firms to diversify their boards. U.S. firms seem to be responding to these calls for greater board diversity. The percentage of female and minority directors has increased substantially over the past 20 years.

Diverse directors possess at least the same professional skills as their peers and, when serving in leadership roles, diverse directors perform their board duties at least as well as their non-diverse counterparts. Biases may at least partially explain the leadership gap we observed for diverse directors.

We found that firms adopting a diversity policy indicating that they consider race and gender in their board nomination policy were more likely to have diverse directors serving in board leadership roles, as were firms with a diverse director on the nominating committee.

Our results suggest that merely increasing diverse representation on the board will not mitigate the leadership gap. If firms wish to mitigate the diversity leadership gap, they should make conscious efforts to do so, by publicly acknowledging their commitment to diversity and by including diverse directors on the board’s nominating committee.

Adrienne Lucas, Professor of Economics

I was drawn to economics because it provides a toolkit that can be applied in myriad contexts to better understand human interactions. I apply this toolkit to the essential human rights of health and education, studying policies, programs and circumstances that help or hinder people’s health and education in low- and middle-income countries. My research is a small contribution to making the world a better place.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Lucas: Women are 24% of the U.S. Senate and 27% of the U.S. House. In 2015, more CEOs of S&P 1500 companies were named John (5.3%) or David (4.5%) than were women (4.1%). Women are 15% of all full professors in Ph.D. granting economics departments. In 2021, I became the first female full professor in the history of my department and will soon be the first female department chair. This lack of representation by women at the highest level of government, industry and academia is a reflection of the bias that women encounter. Bias is robbing the world of potential leaders and brilliant ideas simply because people who look different than a stereotypical leader are discounted.

#BreaktheBias is allowing everyone the opportunity regardless of their demographics.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Lucas: All people are empowered to reach their full potential. Diverse ideas are welcomed. The large issues of our world require creative thinking from everyone, not just those who have historical privilege. And this is not a problem that can be solved by the historically excluded—lack of support for historically marginalized groups hurts everyone and increasing that support should be everyone’s goal.

Stephanie Raible, Assistant Professor of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

I do research on entrepreneurs who defy the entrepreneurial stereotype, which includes a focus on female entrepreneurs. My next study will be in full swing this spring, and I will be recruiting research study participants who identify as women and are newly self-employed (within the past 3.5 years). There will be formal information available soon, but if interested in knowing more, please feel free to reach out to me at sraible@udel.edu.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Raible: #BreaktheBias is something close to my heart because I want all people–including women–to feel empowered to go into the business world. As an undergraduate, I was personally intimidated by the idea of taking business classes because I was told growing up that I was too “sensitive” and “nice” to go into the business world. That might be so for some offices, but, in my view, there’s ample room for everyone who wants to be here, especially in my area of social entrepreneurship. In fact, being sensitive can help you to see the realities of social and environmental challenges–that’s an asset in social entrepreneurship. There’s room for all kinds of people, and I am excited to play a part in broadening the view of what business is and can be for my students.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Raible: In social entrepreneurship especially, you need a diverse representation of people that includes everyone at the table in important decision-making. However, it’s not just at the organizational level that we see this, as many social entrepreneurs fight to create a more equitable and inclusive environment beyond their own businesses and projects. As educators and researchers, we need to do our part as well. There is an underrepresentation of voices of female and minority-led business owners and entrepreneurs across the board. My current research attempts to capture those lived experiences and perspectives, in order to better inform entrepreneurship scholarship and support practices.

Lerner: Anything else you’d like to add about the importance of Women’s History Month or International Women’s Day?

Raible: I think it’s important to celebrate everything we can, and Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are both especially important, as it is a time to deepen our understanding of both where we have come from and where we want to go. This knowledge of the past and future is important because it helps us to define how we approach and act in our present.

Wendy Smith, Emma Smith Morris Professor of Management, and Faculty Director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative

My research is in Paradox Theory, Organizational Theory, leadership, senior teams, social enterprises and innovation. I was a leader in a youth group in high school. I saw the impact that leaders had on getting things done and helping bring out the best in others. I wanted to understand what it took to do that and how to study these kinds of ideas.

Lerner: The theme of International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias, what does this mean to you?

Smith: When I was in grad school, someone told me that he asked a male colleague to do some work with him because he didn’t think that I wanted to travel because of my family. And this was before I had kids. #BreaktheBias means that our underlying stereotypes no longer inform our actions and instead we create an equal playing field that truly allows everyone to succeed on their merits.

Lerner: What does a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive look like to you?

Smith: We have lots of problems to solve in our world at the moment – the planetary emergency, political instability, food insecurity, etc. We know that the best solutions to our world’s problems come when we have diverse voices at the table. Diversity, equitability and inclusion means that we create the conditions where everyone can show up to be their best, contribute their best voice and feel like they belong.

Lerner: Anything else you’d like to add about the importance of Women’s History Month or International Women’s Day?

Smith: I hope that we are so successful in advancing gender equity that one day we no longer need a day or a month to spotlight women and seek to address issues of inequity.