Monthly Archives

August 2023

New book

Credit by numbers? The quantification of creditworthiness

August 31, 2023

Do you know what a FICO score is, or the value of your own score?

Not everyone does, even though FICO scores are incredibly fateful for individuals and their households. Why? Because today FICO scores govern access to credit, and credit is usually needed to make big purchases (for example, financing a new car, or getting a mortgage to buy a home), to deal with short-term emergency expenses (like surprise medical bills), or to maintain consumption when household income gets interrupted because someone lost their job.

A high score means easier credit, while a low score means expensive credit (higher interest rates) or even no credit at all. That these scores play such a central role should come as no surprise because, in fact, FICO scores were designed to govern access to consumer credit, on a mass scale. But now they are used in other contexts as well, and so have become even more consequential.

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Research Findings

The equality policy paradox: helping women advance in the workplace

August 17, 2023

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies aim to improve the experiences of marginalized groups in organizations, yet a large body of research finds that these policies are often ineffective and might even backfire. One previously explored reason is that they can activate biases, generating opposition to policies from majority groups. In a recently published article, I identified another reason why DEI policies might fail, which I label the “Equality Policy Paradox.”

Key Finding: The Equality Policy Paradox

I found that managers who voice the most support for improving equality might also be, contradictorily, the least likely to implement DEI policies. This Equality Policy Paradox may come about because often the managers who are most supportive of DEI policies are themselves members of marginalized groups. As such, they experience career barriers, such as discrimination, that make it difficult for them to practically support DEI policies without harming their own careers.

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Research Findings

Why do startup employees say no to female bosses more frequently?

August 10, 2023

Navigating the entrepreneurial landscape is a challenging feat for women. The hurdles they face are well-documented, which range from equitable access to funding and other resources, to widespread discrimination from venture capitalists and investors. Crunchbase, a data provider, reveals that in 2020, a mere 2.3% of global venture capital was allocated to female entrepreneurs. But the issues are not limited to the funding stage. Post-entry, a systemic performance gap persists. As an example, Crunchbase also reports that of the 120 new entrants to its “Unicorn Board” that year, only 10 were founded by women.

This inequity is far from new or surprising. Research has consistently highlighted the patterns of unfair distribution of venture capital. However, even after succeeding in raising venture capital, we still observe a persistent performance disparity between startups led by men and women. Why? Are there any other hidden challenges that female entrepreneurs face, hampering their success?

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Research Findings

A feeling for AI: ChatGPT and the emotion work of AI-assisted knowledge production

August 3, 2023

ChatGPT has feelings about you. Or, at least, it pretends to.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) language model, able to provide conversation-like responses to inquiries, by drawing on a vast database of written text. And it has been designed to express emotions when it talks to you.

If you ask ChatGPT, it will explain that “As an artificial intelligence, I don’t have feelings or emotions. I don’t experience the world the way humans do.” At the same time, it happily admits that it can simulate all kinds of sentiments, from joy to frustration, to better engage users in “a realistic interaction”.

Mimicking human feeling goes deeper than this though. It has important political and ethical implications, problems that go beyond the by now well-rehearsed errors people have discovered with ChatGPT’s model. In a recently published research note in Sociology I sat down to talk to ChatGPT, about itself, reflexivity, AI ethics and what it means for knowledge work that ChatGPT seems to feel the way that it does.

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