Research

Research is the intellectual backbone of the Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO). In all our work, we address the ways in which deeply embedded cultural assumptions about gender decrease the productivity of individual workers and the performance of organizations as a whole. Coupled with identifying and studying the underlying problems, of course, we also develop, test and evaluate specific strategies for change.

CGO undertakes original scholarship as well as customized research for sponsoring clients. Our research generally explores one of the following areas:

Gender Equity and Change

The CGO takes a unique approach to addressing gender and diversity issues in the workplace. Rather than seeing gender as a problem that individuals confront at work, we believe gender is deeply embedded in an organization's culture and practices. It is at this level of analysis that the most significant research is undertaken and from which real change emerges.

Merely increasing the number of women of diverse backgrounds, although important, doesn’t necessarily change the gendered culture of most organizations. This "gendering" effect, where culture and work practices fit stereotypical white, western, heterosexual, middle-class and masculine ideals, has a differential impact on all people of diverse genders, races, classes, ethnicities and sexual orientations.

Through research and field experience, we have come to see that much workplace bias is less a product of overt behaviors and more the result of embedded masculine norms about individual achievement and assumptions about what it takes to succeed.

Dealing with deeply rooted cultural matters requires that organizations have the means to identify the full dimensions of these issues, access relevant information about the nature and extent of cultural barriers, build institutional capacity to diagnose and respond to problems that arise, and design and evaluate solutions to achieve consistent, incremental change that benefits everyone.

Leadership

Understanding leadership similarities and differences of women and men as well as their resulting impact on organizations is a linchpin of the Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO) research. In addition to studying leadership issues, we also regularly examine the progress women have made in achieving leadership positions in varied organizations to understand the lessons learned and consider, as well, the contributions made by role models and mentors.

This focus on leadership has intensified in recent years as organizations become flatter, team-based, fast-paced and more global. Women and people of color currently make up the majority of new entrants into the workplace, yet they hold a small percentage of leadership positions. At the same time, research continues to underscore the paradox that finds women exemplifying many of the traits associated with effective leadership yet too infrequently being considered leaders.

CGO's work sheds light on what have been under-researched and under-recognized aspects of leadership. Our work gives voice to the experiences and knowledge of women leaders of varied racial, class, ethnic, national, and sexual identities, largely marginalized until now in the research and discourse on leadership.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Intersectionality

We have learned that diversity applies to all dimensions of identity including gender, race, class, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, religion, and more, so that understanding is embedded in our scholarship.
Furthermore, the world in which we work and live is increasingly diverse and more aware of its diversity. This means workplace effectiveness must place an even greater premium on honoring, valuing and respecting all people.

Diverse work forces provide competitive advantages as the market changes to recognize and include diversity of all types.

CGO uses a "complexity lens" to understand gender and diversity. Through this lens, differences are seen as a simultaneous process of identity and institutional practices. The new insight gained through the use of this lens has led CGO to the development of a theory of simultaneity to strengthen diversity efforts. Simply stated, the theory works with the reality that all people have multiple identities, all of which are present "at the table" in any interaction and any of which may be more or less salient in any particular situation.

Globalization

Globalization research focuses on the growing interconnectedness of workforces, stemming from trends such as outsourcing, immigration and technological change. The Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO) seeks to understand the impact of multiple cultures and identities on work practices and global workforce productivity and to help ensure that traditional white, North American standards are not automatically applied to the rest of the world.

The demand for developing strategies for working with diversity in international settings has become more urgent and widespread. Most of the research and practice literature on gender and diversity is derived from and shaped by an American context and cannot be applied directly to other cultural and national contexts. Similarly, the organizational literature for working cross-culturally is largely European-based and is notably lacking in its treatment of power differences, the impact of colonial legacies and ethnic differences within national cultures as well as across cultures and national boundaries.

Contact Us

Request info or contact us at cgo@simmons.edu or 617-521-3315.