Public Lecture 12.06.2023
„Who shakes the trees and dives deep? Detecting bias in professional communication” - D2.2.228 - 12.06.2023, 18:00
Despite the advances of equal opportunities in education and legislation, organisations across sectors are still far away from treating their employees fairly. For example, reporting on the Gender Pay Gap in 2021 revealed that 8 out of 10 British companies paid men on average 16% more than women for the same work. While there are many barriers to equality, research has revealed the existence of biases that overwhelmingly disadvantage women and members of minority and ethnic groups. And while we know about the existence of biases, how exactly they operate in organisational practices producing and reproducing inequalities remains a black box of organisational life.
This talk attempts to open some parts of this black box by exploring a large corpus of performance reviews collected from a multinational company headquartered in London. Using a corpus-based approach, it systematically identifies differences (and similarities) in the ways in which female and male employees, and their work are described and evaluated. The results offer unique insights into the ways in which stereotypical and gendered expectations are routinely perpetuated in high-stake evaluations with direct consequences for people’s careers and professional development. Specifically, it shows how both different and similar lexical choices (hyper)masculinize – sometimes in ‘creative’ ways – the notion of white-collar work in the neoliberal economy, systematically penalising those who do not conform to it.