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Asking the Right Questions

3/8/2017-

by Barbara Ruland, Communications Specialist

Open Invitation to Women’s Inclusion Network Organizing Meeting at #SIOP17

Sometimes, just asking the right question is the key to change.

A new SIOP ad hoc committee got its start from a question Aditi Raghuram, adjunct professor at the University of Houston-Downtown College of Business, posted to the Facebook group for the Society’s Committee on Ethnic and Minority Affairs, CEMA.

“Hey, is there a SIOP Women’s Group?”

The answer was “no,” and that struck a chord with Texas A&M professor and 2017 SIOP Fellow Mindy Bergman

“The majority of adults in this world are women,” she pointed out. “That’s a numerical fact. And when we make it harder for women to participate in the workplace, we make it harder for any organization to be successful, efficient, and effective.”

As SIOP reported in a November 2016 article on the benefits of gender diversity, integrating women into leadership positions can boost a company’s bottom line. But women face a number of gender based challenges in the workplace, highlighted in a recent profile of Karen Korabik, honored for her work on women leaders.

Not long after that Facebook post, Raghuram and Bergman made a proposal to the SIOP Executive Board.

Approved at the January Board meeting, the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) Committee will hold its first organizing meeting during the 2017 SIOP Annual Conference on Friday, April 28 at 12PM, in the Australia 2 room at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. The meeting is open to anyone interested in the topic.

“The Women’s Inclusion Network is meant to be a place where we work together to make sure women are better included in all work places and work spaces,” Bergman said. “So male allies are more than welcome; people who don’t identify as male or female are completely welcome.”

Bergman imagines there are many directions the WIN Committee might take, including mentorship, advocacy, education, communication, and networking. Finding that direction will begin at the April 28 meeting. 

“We want the work to be member-driven and grassroots, but we want there to be a place to make that happen, and that was really the point of setting WIN up this year,” Bergman said. “We haven’t set the content, but we have goals about getting the initiative off the ground.”

The goals as outlined in the Executive Board proposal for the group include:

  • Work with SIOP media team to create at least two news stories based on research from WIN members about gendered issues in the workplace
  • Create WIN Facebook group for members to share ideas and ask questions
  • Present WIN program at SIOP 2018
  • Hold WIN networking event for SIOP 2018
  • Write one TIP article about creation of WIN
  • Develop longer-term goals for WIN, with input from SIOP membership and Membership Services portfolio chair

I-O psychologists are primed to be some of the leaders in gender equality, Bergman said.

“The systems that we develop and deploy in organizations and research as academics are a big part in making the workplace fairer,” she explained. “So we have a big role to play, but sometimes we don’t know how to even start asking the questions because it looks normal to us, the way things are set up.”

When she read Raghuram's Facebook question last fall, Bergman asked herself why there wasn’t a women’s group in SIOP.

“And honestly I think one of the reasons is that generally SIOP as an organization is pretty good at including women,” she said.

But there are still areas that might be improved, with one example being communication about facilities for nursing mothers at the conference (the mothering room at the 2017 conference is in Oceanic 2). Additionally, many women SIOP members face gendered issues in the workplace.

Bergman believes the WIN committee can help improve working conditions for all.

“A lot of times we talk about things as ‘women’s issues’ but they really aren’t,” she said. “When we talk about things like single moms, there are tons of single dads as well. And when we’re more open about these kinds of issues in the workplace for women, it’s also going to make it a better place for men. It’s an ‘all boats rise’ kind of proposition.”

In addition to co-hosting the WIN committee meeting with Raghuram, Bergman is also presenting an alternative session, on the topic of “Creating a More Inclusive I-O Psychology” at the SIOP Annual Conference with colleagues Kecia Thomas and Larry Martinez on Saturday, April 29, 2017, 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM.

Connect:
Click to connect with Dr. Mindy Bergman or Dr. Aditi Raghuram