Stereotyping isn't about "bad people doing bad things." It's about our subconscious biases, and how they sneak into organizational structures.
Psychologist Valerie Purdie Greenaway is the first African American to be tenured in the sciences at Columbia University, in its entire 263 year history. Despite her celebrated position—and, in fact, perhaps because of it—she still struggles with perception, subtle stereotyping, and the enormous stakes of being one of few women of color in a leadership role. Here, Valerie Purdie Greenaway speaks with diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown about being "the only" in a workplace, whether that is along lines of gender, race, culture, or sexual orientation, and how organizations and individuals can do more to recognize and address their biases. That also means letting go of the idea that stereotyping is a malevolent case of "bad people doing bad things." What does discrimination really look like day to day? Most of it is subconscious, subtle, and is deeply embedded into the structure of organizations, which can have an impact on performance, mentorship, and staff turnover. Do you recognize any of your own behavior in this discussion? This live conversation was part of a recent New York panel on diversity, inclusion, and collaboration at work.
It doesn't matter if negative stereotypes are false. They still harms anyone subjected to them because of how the brain reacts, internalizing the feeling of being excluded from a certain group.
It doesn't matter if negative stereotypes are false. They still harms anyone subjected to them because of how the brain reacts, internalizing the feeling of being excluded from a certain group. According to Columbia University psychologist Valerie Purdie Greenaway, that can sap your workplace performance, your ability to concentrate, and your ability to be authentic with others. Everyone eventually experiences what it's like to be on the outside of a group, as well as on the inside of one. But it's worth knowing what the harms of being unfairly treated are. They go much deeper than hurt feelings.
Valerie Purdie Greenaway is the Director of the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, core faculty for the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program (RWJ Columbia-site), and research fellow at the Institute for Research on African-American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia. Dr. Purdie-Vaughns has authored numerous publications that have appeared in journals such as Science, Psychological Science, and Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. She was been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Russell Sage Foundation, Spencer Foundation and William T. Grant Foundation. In 2013, Dr. Purdie-Vaughns was awarded the Columbia University RISE (Research Initiative in Science and Engineering) award for most innovative and cutting edge research proposal titled, “Cells to Society" approach to reducing racial achievement gaps: Neuro-physiologic pathways involved in stereotype threat and social psychological interventions. Previously, Dr. Purdie-Vaughns served on the faculty in the Psychology Department at Yale University. She completed her doctoral work in psychology at Stanford University in 2004 as a student of Dr. Claude Steele. She completed her undergraduate work at Columbia University and lettered in varsity basketball.