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Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy, is a behavioral economist at Harvard Kennedy School, combining insights from economics and psychology to improve decision-making in organizations and society, often with a gender or cross-cultural perspective. Her most recent research examines behavioral design to de-bias how we live, learn and work. She is the author of What Works: Gender Equality by Design, a 2016 Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year and 800-CEO- Business Book of the Year (an example of a book talk can be viewed HERE) and advises governments and companies on the topic around the world. Professor Bohnet served as the academic dean of the Kennedy School, is the director of its research center, the Women and Public Policy Program, co-chair of the Behavioral Insights Group, an associate director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, and the faculty chair of the executive program “Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century” for the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. She is a co-chair of the Global Future Council on Behavioral Science of the World Economic Forum and serves on the boards or advisory boards of Credit Suisse Group, Applied, and Edge, as well as numerous academic journals. She is married and the mother of two children.

Recent Publications

Iris Bohnet,, van Geen, A., & Bazerman, M. H. (2016). When Performance Trumps Gender Bias. Joint Versus Separate Evaluation. Management Science , 62 (5), 1225-1234. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We examine a new intervention to overcome gender biases in hiring, promotion, and job assignments: an “evaluation nudge,” in which people are evaluated jointly rather than separately regarding their future performance. Evaluators are more likely to focus on individual performance in joint than in separate evaluation and on group stereotypes in separate than in joint evaluation, making joint evaluation the money-maximizing evaluation procedure. Our findings are compatible with a behavioral model of information processing and with the System 1/System 2 distinction in behavioral decision research where people have two distinct modes of thinking that are activated under certain conditions.

Iris Bohnet,, & Saidi, F. (2016). Informational Inequity Aversion and Performance (Working paper).Abstract

This paper provides experimental evidence on how informational differences may translate into performance differences in competitive environments. In a laboratory tournament setting, we manipulate beliefs about the effort-reward relationship by varying how much information people receive on the potential impact of luck on outcomes. We find that an informational disadvantage worsens the understanding of the effort-reward relationship, and significantly lowers performance. Our study is inspired by informational differences in the labor market where some individuals have less data on the determinants of economic success than others -- due to social networks or the availability of similar others to learn from.

Iris Bohnet,. (2016). What Works: Gender Equality by Design . Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 What Works in HARDCOVERWhat Works

Gender Equality by Design

Iris Bohnet


Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and de-biasing people’s minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Diversity training programs have had limited success, and individual effort alone often invites backlash. Behavioral design offers a new solution. By de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts. Presenting research-based solutions, Iris Bohnet hands us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions.

What Works is built on new insights into the human mind. It draws on data collected by companies, universities, and governments in Australia, India, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, and other countries, often in randomized controlled trials. It points out dozens of evidence-based interventions that could be adopted right now and demonstrates how research is addressing gender bias, improving lives and performance. What Works shows what more can be done—often at shockingly low cost and surprisingly high speed.

Product Details

$26.95 • £19.95 • €24.50
ISBN 9780674089037
Publication: March 2016
400 pages


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