Robin Ely is Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration and faculty chair of the Gender Initiative. She conducts research on race and gender relations in organizations with a focus on organizational change, group dynamics, learning, conflict, power, and identity. Examples of her research include studies of men and masculinity on offshore oil platforms, the impact of racial diversity on retail bank performance, and the design and delivery of women’s leadership development programs. Professor Ely is presently conducting research on how women can be effective leaders in the face of gender stereotypes and the so-called “double bind” (the well-documented phenomenon whereby women leaders face a trade-off between being liked and being seen as competent); a study of how cultural beliefs about work and family limit both men’s and women’s ability to thrive professionally and lead whole, fulfilled lives; and a comprehensive, longitudinal study of HBS alumni career and life decisions. In her former role as Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community, Professor Ely lead a culture change initiative at Harvard Business School to ensure that all members of the HBS community are able to thrive and reach their potential for advancing the School’s mission. Professor Ely has taught MBA courses in leadership, diversity, teams, and statistics and doctoral courses in gender and race relations and in field research methods; she has also taught in HBS’s executive education programs, including leadership programs designed specifically for women.
For the past several years, Professor Ely has maintained an active faculty affiliation at the Center for Gender in Organizations, Simmons Graduate School of Management, in Boston. Prior to joining the HBS faculty, she taught at Columbia University and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Professor Ely received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Yale University and her Bachelor’s degree from Smith College. She is a member of the Academy of Management, has served on numerous editorial boards of academic journals, and is a past associate editor of Administrative Science Quarterly.