Northwestern Events Calendar


WED@NICO SEMINAR: Jacqueline Lane, Harvard Business School "Rewiring the Gender Distribution of Technical Jobs"

Jacqueline Ng Lane

When: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Meghan Stagl   847.491.2527

Group: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Category: Academic



Jacqueline Ng Lane - Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH), Harvard Business School


Rewiring the Gender Distribution of Technical Jobs: Online Training Programs and (In)equality


Emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are fundamentally changing the nature of work, leading to a technical skills gap between what mid-career professionals do and what they need to be effective in their jobs. Online programs in technical fields provide one promising avenue for addressing the growing skills gap. Yet given historical processes of gender inequality in the workplace, particularly in technical fields, one important question to ask is to what extent do online technical training programs equally attract men and women to apply. We investigate this question using proprietary data on the multi-staged decision processes made by 180,186 prospects on whether to apply to an executive-level online technical training program in business analytics, augmented with communications data on the count and length of interactions between each prospect and admissions counselor pair. We find that female prospects self-steer away from applying while admissions counselors screen-out female prospects by preferentially allocating resources to male prospects. Counter to theories of homophily, which suggests that individuals prefer to associate with similar others, we find that gender congruity between female prospect-counselor pairs reduces the likelihood that females advance through the admissions process. Examining contextual features, we find that more gender-balanced workgroups and prior experience with female prospects may attenuate gender differences in application outcomes.

Speaker Bio:

Jackie Ng Lane is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Business School and the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH). Her research focuses on organizations, and lies at the intersection of knowledge production, social networks, diversity and careers. She uses quantitative methods, complemented with qualitative insights, and natural field experiments to examine (1) how informal knowledge sharing affects the knowledge production process, (2) the implications of social networks on performance and career outcomes, and (3) the extent that access to managerial skills training in technical fields promotes workforce diversity.

Jackie has a PhD in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences from Northwestern University. Before graduate school, she worked in sales and trading, equity research, and in retail services and operations. 

About the Speaker Series:

Wednesdays@NICO is a vibrant weekly seminar series focusing broadly on the topics of complex systems and data science. It brings together attendees ranging from graduate students to senior faculty who span all of the schools across Northwestern, from applied math to sociology to biology and every discipline in-between. 

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