Dr Raina Brands
Raina Brands has a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge. She is an expert in gender bias and social networks. Raina has devoted her research career to understanding how gender bias in the informal realms of organizational life can present hidden barriers to performance and attainment for women.
Raina lives in London with her partner Elias and her fluff-monster, Leo the Labradoodle.
Dr Aneeta Rattan
Aneeta (pronounced ah-nee-tha) Rattan has a Ph.D. from Stanford University. She studies mindsets, diversity, and the experience of belonging, and barriers to it, for minorities and women in workplaces and schools. She also investigates why minorities and women confront overtly biased comments, and how they can be most effective in doing so.
Aneeta lives in London with her husband Jesse.
We are business school professors who have devoted our careers to studying bias and diversity. We spend a great deal of time working with leaders and organizations, offering them research-based insights and advice on how to create meritocratic workplaces where all individuals have an equal chance to succeed. Like you, we are disappointed with the level of progress we see. The leadership of organizations remains stubbornly white and male. The gender pay gap shows little sign of improvement. And it is not because women lack the talent and tenacity to make it. It’s because the stereotyping and bias that women face are woven into the fabric of organizations, and of everyday workplace interactions, creating a self-reinforcing system that disadvantages them at every juncture.
As professors, we also hear from our students about the biased state of today’s global workplace. We have been surprised to find that one of the most common questions we get is “was this bias?” We’ve learned that people can easily describe everyday experiences that feel unfair to them, experiences their gut tells them differ systematically from their white male colleagues’ workplace “everyday”. But with the exception of the most overt and egregious events (which we also hear about) they struggle to articulate if it is bias and why.
As business school professors, we have also been there ourselves, asking each other “did that just happen?,” “am I reading this situation correctly?,” and “would this happen to someone who is not a woman? (in Raina’s case) or a racial minority woman? (in Aneeta’s case)” The difference for us has been (1) we are each experts on bias (2) we had each other (along with some fantastic women colleagues). In other words, when we face those questions, we can either draw on our knowledge of the research base to situate our daily experiences in the evidence base, or ask an expert. When we are still unsure, as researchers we know the kind of data we need to collect to figure out the answer. We may not experience any less bias, but we are able to call it when we see it, which means we can address it effectively. We do not have to rely upon “whisper networks,” or on flawed advice from the popular press and workplace trainers who focus on training women to navigate the myriad of barriers, biases and “catch 22s” in their careers while leaving the systems of bias intact.
This has made a difference in our careers, and it is why we have started Career Equally. If we want systemic change, a grassroots movement of women need to be empowered with the knowledge, skills, and resources to demand a level playing field from their employers now – not for future generations. Our goal is to empower and inspire women to take individual and collective action to re-shape their workplace experiences, and in doing so, their careers.