Normative Discrimination and the Motherhood Penalty

Sophie Bierly

This research proposes and tests a new theoretical mechanism to account for a portion of the motherhood penalty in wages and related labor market outcomes. At least a portion of this penalty is attributable to discrimination based on the assumption that mothers are less competent and committed than other types of workers. But what happens when mothers definitively prove their competence and commitment? In this study, we examine whether mothers face discrimination in labor-market-type evaluations even when they provide indisputable evidence that they are competent and committed to paid work. We test the hypothesis that evaluators discriminate against highly successful mothers by viewing them as less warm, less likable, and more interpersonally hostile than otherwise similar workers who are not mothers. The results support this “normative discrimination” hypothesis for female but not male evaluators. The findings have important implications for understanding the nature and persistence of discrimination toward mothers.

Discrimination against Mothers is the Strongest Form of Workplace Gender Discrimination: Lessons from US Caregiver Discrimination Law

Sophie Bierly

Work-family reconciliation is an integral part of labor law as the result of two major demographic changes: the rise of the two-earner family, and the pressing concern of elder care as Baby Boomers age. Despite these changes, most European and American workplaces still assume that the committed worker has a family life secured so that family responsibilities do not distract from work obligations. This way of organizing employment around a breadwinner husband and a caregiver housewife, which arose in the late eighteenth century, is severely outdated today. The result is workplace-workforce mismatch: Many employers still have workplaces perfectly designed for the workforce of 1960. Labour lawyers in Europe and the United States have developed different legal strategies to reduce the work-family conflicts that arise from this mismatch. The Europeans’ focus is on public policy, based on a European political tradition of communal social supports — a tradition the United States lacks. Advocates in the United States, faced with the most family-hostile public policy in the developed world, have developed legal remedies based on the American political tradition of individualism, using anti-discrimination law to eliminate employment discrimination against mothers and other adults with caregiving responsibilities. This article explores both the social science documenting that motherhood is the strongest trigger for gender bias in the workplace and the American cases addressing “family responsibilities discrimination.”

Better Together: A Model for Women and LGBTQ Equality in the Workplace

Sophie Bierly

Much has been achieved in terms of human rights for women and people of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer (LGBTQ) community. However, human resources management (HRM) initiatives for gender equality in the workplace focus almost exclusively on white, heterosexual, cisgender women, leaving the problems of other gender, and social minorities out of the analysis. This article develops an integrative model of gender equality in the workplace for HRM academics and practitioners. First, it analyzes relevant antecedents and consequences of gender-based discrimination and harassment (GBDH) in the workplace. Second, it incorporates the feminist, queer, and intersectional perspectives in the analysis. Third, it integrates literature findings about women and the LGBTQ at work, making the case for an inclusive HRM. The authors underscore the importance of industry-university collaboration and offer a starters’ toolkit that includes suggestions for diagnosis, intervention, and applied research on GBDH. Finally, avenues for future research are identified to explore gendered practices that hinder the career development of women and the LGBTQ in the workplace.

Feminism, Equity and the Family-Centred Workplace

Sophie Bierly

Gaps in gender equality are narrowing globally, but significant challenges persist in all countries. Approaches to improve gender equality need to be made by individuals and at the organisational level. Egalitarian men can do their utmost to promote opportunities for women in medicine and science. But to quote feminist Mary Beard, ‘you cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded male; you have to change the structure’.

Workforce + Childcare: Executive Summary

Sophie Bierly

Child care supports the current workforce, and high quality child care builds a strong future workforce. It’s time for San Diego to take action.

Women in the Workplace 2019

Sophie Bierly

This year marks the fifth year of McKinsey & Company’s research on women in the workplace, conducted in partnership with LeanIn.Org. We look back on data and insights since 2015 from close to 600 companies that participated in the study, more than a quarter of a million people that were surveyed on their workplace experiences, and more than 100 in-depth one-on-one interviews that were conducted. (See our infographic below for top-level findings from the past five years.)

The Equal Pay Act: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (But Not All the Way)

Sophie Bierly

In 1963, we could have only dreamed of a woman with a realistic shot at the White House, or a female Speaker of the House or Secretary of State. There were no women heading Fortune 500 companies, jetting into space, or sitting on the Supreme Court. The average women had limited educational opportunities and very few career options, and in the jobs they had, on average, they still only made 60 cents on the dollar that men did.

Modernizing U.S. Labor Standards for 21st-Century Families

Sophie Bierly

Women now make up almost half the U.S. workforce. Despite the central role women play in the U.S. economy, our labor laws
and institutions do little to address the various ways in which women are held back at work. This not only hampers women’s
economic well-being, but also has implications for U.S. productivity, labor force participation, and economic growth. In this
paper, we propose policies aimed at boosting women’s economic outcomes: paid family leave, fair scheduling, and combatting
wage discrimination. We show how enacting carefully designed policies in these categories will better address the challenges of
today’s labor force, enhance women’s economic outcomes, and provide benefits for the national economy.

Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women

Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women

Sophie Bierly

Though companies now invest heavily in mentoring and developing their best female talent, all that attention doesn’t translate into promotions. A Catalyst survey of over 4,000 high potentials shows that more women than men have mentors—yet women are paid $4,600 less in their first post-MBA jobs, hold lower-level positions, and feel less career satisfaction.

Sponsorship Maturity Curve

The Sponsor Dividend: Key Findings

Sophie Bierly

Through both hard data and in-depth interviews with sponsor/protégé pairs, this research showcases the vantage point of the sponsor—including common stumbling blocks and paths to success. The Sponsor Dividend also shows how employers can intentionally build sponsorship, from the initial stages, to becoming an embedded part of company culture.