Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology > Research & Publications > TIP > TIP Back Issues > 2017 > January


Volume 54     Number 3    January 2017      Editor: Tara Behrend

Meredith Turner
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From the Editor: President Trump

Tara Behrend

In a few weeks, we will hold an inauguration ceremony for President Donald Trump in the U.S. To be very clear, SIOP is an international and nonpartisan organization, and TIP is an international and nonpartisan publication. The views in this column are my own, and the views presented by editorial columnists are their own. Yet, regardless of nationality or political affiliation, a Trump presidency affects all scientists and practitioners of I-O psychology, and it is worth reflecting on how to make sense of the next 4 years at this moment of unbelievable upheaval. What’s more, we can reflect on what our field can do to help understand and direct what happens next.


First, I suspect there will be somewhat dampened enthusiasm for the power of big data to predict the future. Instead, we see again that social scientists need to rely on theory and solid data collection methods to develop useful insights. I-O psychologists can help by being visible and engaging with the public about our skills and value. We can also help by educating ourselves about the world of data. To this point, see this issue’s Crash Course in Machine Learning and Modern App columns to improve your vocabulary on this topic.


Second, the future of science funding is most certainly uncertain. Agencies such as NIH and DoD tend to have bipartisan support. Others, like the Department of Education, may have their budgets cut dramatically, or their funding priorities altered, in ways that limit our ability to do research in those areas. I-O psychologists can help by calling our elected representatives, especially if they sit on the subcommittees that oversee those agencies. Read the GREAT committee’s excellent analysis of how our interaction with the federal government might be affected.


Third, women in the workplace will continue to have to battle against those who deny them professional respect on the grounds that they are too ambitious/not ambitious enough, too emotional/not emotional enough, don’t smile enough/aren’t serious enough, care too much/ too little about their appearance, and so forth. Micro and macro aggressions against women, people of color, people with disabilities, and immigrants have been legitimized and even embraced by the person who is in charge of setting the national tone. I-O psychologists can help by continuing to conduct research about the prevalence and effects of discrimination. I-Os working in organizations can advocate for policies and programs that respect diversity. All of us can ensure that our language and behavior signals our respect for diversity, in and out of the workplace.


I feel compassion for the many people who lost jobs in the past 20 years and never recovered. This must be a focus of social sciences research going forward, so much more than it has been to date. I-O psychology has so much to offer the study of skills development, training, vocational choice, and unemployment effects. The knowledge we have generated about topics like talent management, coaching, and high potentials shouldn’t be the sole property of the richest corporate leaders. Let’s figure out how to support small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and new sectors of the economy. Let’s be job creators.


This issue of TIP has several thoughtful pieces on the occasion of Trump’s inauguration.  Allison Gabriel writes about how she talked with her students after the election. The LGBT committee makes an impassioned call for attention to civil rights challenges that may become salient in the future.  Mike Aamodt provides an explanation of sex as a BFOQ, an issue that will continue to be relevant as we battle discrimination going forward. Many of your colleagues engage with the trickiest and most interesting issues in the field of I-O psychology. I’ve organized the election-focused columns into a special section. Read, comment, get in touch with me and let me know what you think.

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