Jennifer Berdahl, an international leader in the study of gender and ethnicity in organizations, will be the first to hold the Montalbano Professorship in Leadership Studies: Women and Diversity at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
Berdahl, who comes to Sauder from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, has studied the treatment of women and minorities in the workplace for over 20 years. Her research has led to roles as a courtroom expert witness and advisor to Canadian Parliament, and informed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
“I’ve spent the first two decades of my research career identifying significant problems that exist in the workplace,” says Berdahl. “Now it’s time to figure out how to fix them and help create change by having a dialogue directly with people in organizations.”
Under Berdahl’s leadership, Sauder will be a centre of excellence for the study of leadership equity. She will also guide the development of curriculum and programming at the school and take on an external role to influence practice in Canada and around the world.
“Jennifer will lead our efforts to explore and explain how business can be made stronger through diversity,” says Sauder Dean Robert Helsley, Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy. “A critical mass of new research shows that the quality of business decisions can increase when more voices are heard. It’s our goal to empower those voices and ensure they have the ability to shine through.”
This announcement comes with new commitments from Sauder to advance female participation in leadership, including the goal of leading Canada’s globally ranked business schools in female MBA enrollment within five years. The school will also establish a new strategic advisory council to provide guidance on the promotion of female leadership, and launch a community outreach program to promote women in business and business education.
The Montalbano Professorship was founded with a $2 million gift from Vancouver business leader and UBC Board of Governors Chair John Montalbano. Its creation was announced in November 2013.
New commitments to leadership diversity
Through an increase to scholarships, beginning with a $500,000 fundraising commitment, and new recruitment initiatives, Sauder aims to dramatically increase applications from strong female candidates. The goal of school is to become Canada’s leader for the proportion of women in its MBA offered by the Robert H. Lee Graduate School within five years.
Women’s Leadership Advisory Council
To guide the school and support Jennifer Berdahl in her professorship, Sauder will establish a council of leaders from business, government and non-profit organizations. The group will provide advice on curriculum, programing and research, a network to support student placements, and resources to advance Sauder’s promotion of leadership opportunities for women beyond the school.
Increased community outreach
Sauder will raise $200,000 from donors to support outreach and engagement objectives of the Montalbano Professorship in Leadership Studies: Women and Diversity. The fund will provide for a series of public engagement events on the topic of diversity in leadership. RBC Wealth Management has already provided a $125,000 sponsorship gift toward the professorship’s engagement initiatives, and events are planned for Vancouver and Toronto this year.
Biography: Professor Jennifer Berdahl
Professor Berdahl has a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Illinois and was a faculty member at the University of California Berkeley's Haas School of Business before her position at Rotman. She is well known for her research on the workplace and has studied a range of topics from sexual harassment against assertive women to discrimination against men who fail to conform to masculine ideals.
Well acquainted with Sauder’s leading research in the area of organizational behaviour, Berdahl has already collaborated with Sauder professors, publishing the study "Sexual behavior at work: Fun or folly?” with Professor Karl Aquino and co-authoring the forthcoming study “Is negative attention better than no attention? The comparative effects of ostracism and harassment at work,” with Professor Sandra Robinson.
Widely sought for her expertise, Professor Berdahl is a regular source for leading international news organizations and has served as an expert court witness on sexual harassment cases in the United States and Canada. She has also advised numerous large organizations and the Canadian Parliament on gender and diversity policy.
An avid blogger, she has written dozens of thought pieces on such topics as gender equity at the 2014 Winter Olympics, culture change at the Harvard School of Business, Miley Cyrus’s recent performance at the MTV Music Awards, and much more.
Visit her blog to explore her writing.
Andrew Riley, Manager, Public & Media Relations
Sauder School of Business
University of British Columbia