“If you have a creative research question, you can carry out whatever study you could ever want to test it.”
I grew up just outside of Washington D.C., where my father works as an economist. I went to Bethesda Chevy Chase public high school, and then went on to Connecticut College, a small liberal arts school in New London, CT. I double majored in Psychology and Hispanic Studies, received a BA summa cum laude with honors, and did an undergraduate thesis that focused on cross-cultural perceptions of professional women based on the masculinity or femininity of their dress. I spent my entire junior year abroad, spending a semester in Salamanca, Spain, a semester in Rome, Italy, and then the summer working at Sigma Dos Internacional (an opinion polling company) in Madrid, Spain.
The Organizational Behavior Program
I knew I wanted to attend the OB program at HBS in my freshman year at college. I had known from junior year of high school that I wanted to focus on Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and this program seemed like the perfect fit. Once I got further into my studies at Connecticut College, I found myself focusing more on social issues (i.e., stereotyping) at work, which led me away from traditional I/O toward social psychology. Working on my thesis and other research at Conn, I came across the work of Amy Cuddy and her colleagues, which was hugely influential on my way of thinking. Her work on the stereotype content model, the BIAS map, perceptions of professional mothers, and power posing were all things I found incredibly interesting. I ended up applying to mostly social psychology programs, but my top choice was still this OB program because it is not only a great place to study traditional I/O issues but also social issues in organizations. This program also had the best resources, funding, and course requirements for what I wanted.
My Research Interests
A main focus of my research is the “double bind,” or the fact that women are most often perceived as either warm but incompetent, or competent but cold. It seems that professional women are perceived as belonging to one of these two categories and are usually unable to be seen as both warm and competent. I am interested in how nonverbal behavior and self-presentation methods either attenuate or intensify these stereotyped perceptions of professional women. I like this program because not only do several faculty focus on this issue (e.g., Amy Cuddy and Robin Ely), but also because HBS focuses on addressing real world issues and disseminating research findings to practitioners. This program also requires the psychology and research methodology courses that I need to conduct my research, but also the freedom to work on my own projects and be treated as an equal by faculty members.
The HBS Experience
There is no way to emphasize enough the phenomenal resources and funding we have here. We have access to hundreds of databases and many different methodologies (such as hormone testing, sociometers, psychophysiological measures, eye-tracking) and we don’t need to spend time writing grants to get funding. If you have a creative research question, you can carry out whatever study you could ever want to test it.
The faculty here treat us more like colleagues than students. I feel my professors respect my opinion and I am encouraged to work on my own projects. This is also challenging, however, because you need to be independent and self-motivated. Your professors will be open to meeting with you, but no one will give you weekly deadlines or keep you on task. You need to be passionate about your own work and be able to push yourself without external motivators.
Other things that I love about HBS
- The cafeteria food is really good and well-priced
- The gym is fantastic
- The campus is unbelievably beautiful
- We have access to some great lab facilities, including the CLER lab and the Kennedy Decision Sciences Lab
- The stipend allows me to live comfortably off campus without needing to get a part-time job
- There is a constant flow of seminars, symposiums, lab meetings, talks, etc. that you are encouraged to attend
I want to teach at a top business school either here in the United States, Canada, England, or Germany (my husband is German).
Advice for prospective HBS doctoral students
You will not find the resources that HBS has to offer anywhere else. If you are someone who is self-motivated, is passionate about your subject, and doesn’t mind feeling pressure to succeed, you will find this program to be the perfect jumping off point for a research career focusing on pretty much any topic you want, using any methodology you can imagine.