Robin J. Ely

Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration
Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community

Robin Ely is Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community at Harvard Business School, 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 role as Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community, Professor Ely is leading 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.


  1. Received the 2007 Academy of Management Mentoring Best Practices Award and the Making Connections Award from the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management.

  2. Won with David A. Thomas the 2007 Administrative Science Quarterly Award for Scholarly Contribution for their paper, "Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes" (Administrative Science Quarterly, June 2001). The award was established in 1995 to recognize authors of papers published in ASQ that have made exceptional contributions to the field of organization studies and is given annually for the most significant paper published in ASQ five years earlier.

  3. Nominated for the 1990 Dorothy Harlow Best Paper Award for "The Role of Men in Relationships among Professional Women" (Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, January 1990).

  4. Winner of the 1991 Dorothy Harlow Best Paper Award for "Gender Difference: What Difference Does it Make?" (Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, January 1991).