Joyce He joined the UCLA Anderson School of Management faculty in 2021 as an assistant professor. Her research adopts a social perception lens to investigate mechanisms that perpetuate gender inequality and transform those insights to behaviorally informed systemic interventions to alleviate inequality.
He’s initial research experience with the psychology of snap judgments inspired her to examine the real-world consequences of snap judgment, particularly in the workplace. “The common thread in my work is social perception — the accuracy and inaccuracy of how we see others, how others see us and how we manage those perceptions,” He explains. “My program of research is fundamentally driven by two key questions that apply this social perception lens to the phenomenon of gender inequality: How do gender inequalities in labor markets and organizations persist and perpetuate? More important, how can we shift the status quo and disrupt these biases to change behavior?”
In a series of studies that examine how job seekers manage self-presentation of gender and associated gender stereotypes in job applications, she finds that female job seekers attempt to overcome anticipated gender discrimination when applying to male-dominated jobs by using less feminine language in their cover letters. However, this strategy unfortunately backfires; women who use less feminine language are ironically less likely to receive favorable job outcomes because they violate expectations about how women should self-present.
“Individual efforts to overcome bias by managing impressions of gender, for example, are ineffective in closing the gender gap when the system presents a tricky double-bind that penalizes women’s behavior no matter what they do,” she says.
He’s recent work focuses on solutions that aim to fix the “system.” In one research project, she examines promotions within organizations, where self-nomination and competition among applicants results in less participation by women and, therefore, fewer promotions among women. She and her co-authors found that changing promotion schemes from a default where applicants must opt in to promotion consideration to a default where applicants are automatically considered for promotion but can choose to opt out of being considered, could attenuate gender inequities. “These results support the promise of choice architecture to reduce disparities in organizations,” He says. “Rather than put the onus on women and minorities to navigate a biased system, the system needs structural changes rooted in organizational design.”
He is originally from Vancouver and joined the Anderson faculty eager to return to the West Coast. A fellow at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s Institute for Gender and the Economy, He is GATE’s first Ph.D. fellow to graduate. Her peer-reviewed research has garnered media attention from Scientific American, Psychology Today and many international news outlets.