Advisory Board Research Impact Award

Dr. Alyson Byrne and Dr. Erin Oldford

(l-r) Drs. Erin Oldford and Alyson Byrne

Two studies examining different aspects of gender diversity gaps have been recognized for their practical impact by leaders at Memorial’s business faculty.

Dr. Alyson Byrne and Dr. Erin Oldford are the first dual winners of the Faculty of Business Administration Advisory Board Research Impact Award, which recognizes research impact on teaching, practice or policy.

Dr. Byrne’s study, Women leaders’ views on demand-side strategies, analyzed interviews with senior female leaders across North America to consider ways the gender gap in senior management may be narrowed.

It was published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology and co-authored by Dr. Ingrid Chadwick of Concordia University and Dr. Amanda Hancock, then a PhD in management student at Memorial’s business faculty.

The results were surprising, with 65 per cent of participants identifying demand-side strategies as beneficial, if controversial.

Demand-side strategies are policy interventions, such as gender targets, gender quotas and reporting requirements, that aim to increase the minimum standards of gender representation in organizations.

Such strategies do increase the numbers of women in senior roles, Dr. Byrne says, but they may also create a perception of those positions not being earned or based on merit.

Dr. Byrne says in order for gender quotas, targeting and reporting to be effective, conversations need to change. There also needs to be support from the top down as well as from male allies.

Dr. Oldford’s research examined an issue for women just starting their careers.

In her paper, Decoding bias: Gendered language in finance internship job postings, she examines job postings for internship positions in the finance industry to determine whether they contribute to the industry’s gender imbalance.

Along with co-author Dr. John Fiset from St. Mary’s University, they assessed the language used in finance internship job postings across North America, finding that primarily agentic language was used – even at organizations known for their diversity and inclusion policies.

Agentic language is self-orientated and focused on power and achievement. Dr. Oldford says existing research shows women respond more to communal language, which focuses on harmony and collaboration.

Therefore, while firms may want to attract female interns, ads trying to recruit them are instead turning them away.

It’s a subtle bias, she says, that needs to be remedied in order to recruit more women into the finance industry.

Dr. Oldford’s study is the first to examine this issue in the finance industry. It was published in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance.