Amber Stark

Member Spotlight: Christiane Spitzmueller, PhD

Position/Employer: University of Houston

Interest area(s): Occupational Health Psychology—work–family interface, diversity, workplace safety

What sparked your interest in I-O psychology?
Work matters. Most of us spend a large percentage of our adult lives working, and work profoundly impacts our health and well-being. As a psychology undergraduate, I did not see a pathway for myself as a clinical psychologist, and I-O psychology seemed to offer fascinating work opportunities in both applied and academic settings. As an undergrad, I had hoped to become a consultant, but in graduate school I realized I enjoyed research and working with students a whole lot more than consulting.

What role do you see I-O psychology playing in the future of work?
In the past, our discipline has struggled when it comes to social justice, and I’d argue that we’ve contributed to injustice and that some of our work has limited diversity, equity, and inclusion.  I am cautiously optimistic that we are moving in a direction where we recognize our role as I-O psychologists for the greater good, and particularly for the good of those who were previously discriminated against in work settings. In my perspective, we owe it to society and our field to work to create inclusive workplaces that allow everyone to be safe, thrive, and contribute.

Which of the Top 10 Work Trends for 2021 do you most strongly relate to, and how can I-O psychology practitioners, educators, and students impact this trend?
I’d argue that employee health and well-being and safety, as well as and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are the two key challenges our field is facing for the next decade. Practitioners and educators can model what we have learned and advocate that well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion are components of every project and every aspect of our work lives. The development of meaningful metrics in the DEI space is particularly critical; we manage what we measure, so the right metrics will go a long way towards progress. In the work I do with my students and colleagues, we are interested in examining what types of metrics can be used to track DEI issues in promotions processes.

How long have you been a SIOP member?
Forever? This seriously dates me! Since 2000. The only in-person SIOP annual conference I missed since then was the one in Hawaii. With limited travel resources, I decided it made more sense for the grad students in our lab to attend than for me.

What roles have you had within SIOP?
I have served as a reviewer on some of the awards committees, chaired the Hebl award committee last year, and will do the same this year. I also contribute to a subcommittee dedicated to making our annual conference more inclusive.  

What is one of your favorite SIOP annual conference memories/highlights?
Probably my first SIOP annual conference in New Orleans. I got to go with Shreya Sarkar-Barney, who was an amazing grad school mentor and friend, and some other BGSU students, and it was interesting and exciting. Attending the SIOP conference made me feel confident I’d made the right career decision.

What advice would you give to students or early practitioners?
Do work in areas you care about, that are linked to your long-term life goals—much easier to stay enthusiastic about work you deeply care about. And learn as much about stats and research methods as you can. And establish a daily writing practice—this is critical especially for aspiring academics.

Please share one non-I-O-related bit of information about yourself.
I have three amazing children (Sophie, Emma, and Nora, ages 12, 10, and 5). All of them have been to SIOP annual conferences as infants—in slings and baby carriers—so they should be ready to enter our field shortly. In my limited spare time, I do long runs, and I love water color painting.

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