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What Works: Gender Equality by Design Hardcover – Illustrated, March 8, 2016
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“Compelling, lucid, and filled with actionable insights, What Works draws from a deep well of research to explain how we can end gender inequality.”―Adam Grant, author of Give and Take and Originals
“Pathbreaking work, and packed with insights on every page. Bohnet has produced, at once, the best book ever written on behavioral science and discrimination, and a major contribution to behaviorally informed policymaking as a whole. Her book promises to change both private and public institutions―and to improve individual lives.”―Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University and coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness
“Drawing on a deep well of research and expertise, Iris Bohnet’s new book gives companies a practical and invaluable toolkit for designing a gender-equal culture. Her business case for action is so compelling that it should be required reading for every corporate leader.”―Frédéric Rozé, President and CEO, L’Oréal USA
“Bohnet assembles an impressive assortment of studies that demonstrate how organizations can achieve gender equity in practice…What Works is stuffed with good ideas, many equally simple to implement…In this era of the TEDification of every promising idea, Bohnet is refreshingly careful. She never overgeneralizes; she cautions about extrapolating from one group to another; and she acknowledges ignorance where data are lacking…The glory of this book is that Bohnet not only offers dozens of practical examples of how behavioral findings can be put to use but also demonstrates that moving toward equity need not be a zero-sum game in which as women gain, men lose…She makes trying out the new steps seem like an exhilarating project rather than an impossible one.”―Carol Tavris, Wall Street Journal
“Right up to board level, companies should find in What Works not only food for thought [about gender bias], but a guide for effective practical action as well.”―Sarah Gordon, Financial Times
“What Works delivers! I have long been inspired by Iris Bohnet’s impressive research on gender bias. In this book, she has distilled years of work into practical approaches that any organization―business, education or government―can adapt to start changing the environments in which we all live, learn, and work. This is a must-read for everyone who actually wants to do something to address the stubborn and costly issue of gender inequality.”―Beth A. Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Ernst & Young Global Limited
“A game changer. In this brilliant and practical book, Bohnet explains how behavioral insights can collapse gender inequality in our lifetime. It’s terrific.”―Linda Babcock, James M. Walton Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University and coauthor of Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide
“A refreshingly clear, meticulously researched manual for eliminating gender inequality in the workplace.”―The Guardian
“Thoroughly evidence-based and intensely practical. This book will provide employers with ways to think about what changes they can and should be making to address unintentional discrimination in the workplace, and how such changes would benefit everyone.”―Jessica Abrahams, Prospect
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0674089030
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674089037
- Publisher : Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Illustrated edition (March 8, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #644,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I ran a company and wish I'd had this book before learning so many of its lessons by experience.
It’s also very helpful to check on your own bias on things you didn’t even realize.
Overall a very interesting read.
Highly recommended for a good perspective on gender bias with practical remedies for change.
Top reviews from other countries
I’m taking it as given that there is a problem, but if you disagree, Bohnet provides plenty of evidence of its existence. The problem is not restricted to the misogynists actively discriminating; it is also due to the unconscious biasses we all have, sabotaging our best efforts. But unconscious bias training has very little effect. And stereotypes are hard to overcome: if women aren’t appointed to certain positions because of the stereotype that they aren’t appropriate in those positions, then there will never be any evidence to overcome the stereotype. So what should we do?
The answer Bohnet advocates is behavioural design: changing not our innermost biasses, but nudging what we do in the right direction. After all, a bias that is never acted on doesn’t really matter. So Bohnet lays out a series of design changes – to our hiring and promotion processes, to our team building, to our norms, and more – to make it easier to act in a more inclusive way. These can be implemented piecemeal using an unfreeze (the old behaviours) – change (to the new behaviours) – refreeze (stick with the new behaviours) process.
Examples of behavioural design include: recruit staff in batches, rather than one at a time, to reduce the temptation to go for the standard option, and to allow for more diverse choices; interview one-on-one rather than in panels, and aggregate the individual interviewers’ independent scores, to avoid groupthink. Quotas can help level the playing field; to get round the perception that the “beneficiaries” of the quota are under-qualified, first choose a long-list of candidates based on quality, and only then use the quota to increase diversity; everyone eventually chosen has passed the same quality threshold.
Some of the evidence shows possibly counter-intuitive effects. For example, having a “token” minority can backfire: the way our biassed brains work means that singletons will typically be judged by their group stereotype, not by their individual qualities. Including more than one person from the particular group allows each to be seen and judged more as an individual, rather than just as a representative of their class. This is the “critical mass” effect: a minority shouldn’t be present as less than one third, or three people, in total. This is an interesting approach. It implies that if you have a class of say 40 students, 30 men and 10 women, to be partitioned into teams of four, then it is much better to have five teams with two men and two women, and five teams all men, than to have 10 teams of three men and one woman.
There are many more relatively simple ideas for change here, from wording in job adverts to de-risking applications, from negotiation processes to stereotype threats, from the importance of role models to implementing transparent processes. And Bohnet is a strong advocate for the use of data to determine the presence and shape of the problem, and the using controlled experiments to determine the effectiveness of the interventions.
I have just summarised parts of the advice: Bohnet provides the rationale and the evidence. If you are serious about improving gender equality, and equality for other under-represented groups, then this is the book for you.
Perhaps one downside is that it there could be more on what works and more ideas for what could be done and marginally less focus on studies showing what doesn't. But that reflects the state of research in this field. I love the behavioural economics/psychology approach, the heavy reliance on studies, and the balanced arguments that highlights the risks and downsides of approaches that I would love to be much more clear cut. Highly recommended.
I think the best thing about the book is with a little imagination the implications of the method having far-reaching consequences outside of its primary concern with gender equality. Partly because Iris is a better writer than Thaler and partly because of the in-depth focus on one issue, but it actually does a better job of illustrating behavioural science and implicit bias than "Nudge".