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Posted April 14, 2009

Olin Conference to Focus on Workplace Discrimination

Olin Conference

Experts from a variety of fields will meet at the Law School on Friday and Saturday to identify the best ways to combat workplace discrimination as part of the 2009 John M. Olin Conference.

A half-century of legal and regulatory efforts have failed to create a consensus on the best ways to promote equality in the workplace, according to Professor Gregory Mitchell, who will moderate a panel at the conference.

“Governments and private organizations spend tremendous amounts of money to address workplace inequality, yet inequalities persist,” Mitchell said. “Is this because the nature of discrimination has changed, because our human capital policies are incomplete, because companies are not truly committed to fighting discrimination, because existing public and private remedies are ineffective and may even backfire, or is there some truth in each of these perspectives?”

The conference will bring together leading scholars from economics, law, political science, psychology, sociology and statistics to tackle these questions and synthesize what works and what does not work in combating workplace discrimination.

The conference's second aim will be to identify ways to communicate these practices to best help employers, employees, courts and policymakers.

SCHEDULE
Print Version

FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009
9 a.m.-12 p.m.

PANEL I

Sources and Mechanisms of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence

What are the sources and mechanisms of workplace discrimination? What are the sources and mechanisms of racial and gender disparities within the workplace other than discrimination?

Moderator: Chris Winship, Department of Sociology, Harvard University
Roberto Fernandez, Sloan School of Management, M.I.T.
Elizabeth Gorman, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Brian Nosek, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Trond Petersen, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Lauren Rivera, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

10:30 a.m. Break
1:30-5 p.m.

PANEL II

Regulation of the Workplace: Theory and Evidence

What are effective psychological and organizational checks on stereotyping and prejudice? What are the risks of over- and under-correction associated with different regulatory approaches? Are consciousness-raising and procedural-accountability measures more than symbolic gestures?

Moderator: Gregory Mitchell, School of Law, University of Virginia
Jamie Barden, Department of Psychology, Howard University
Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University
Philip E. Tetlock, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

3 p.m.

Break

SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2009
9 a.m.-12 p.m.

PANEL III

Dealing with Uncertainty: How Should Researchers and Courts Proceed?

Are current legislative responses to workplace discrimination adequate? Does current legislation place too great an emphasis on individualized litigation and too little emphasis on structural solutions and human capital development? What role should laboratory experiments, field studies, econometric studies and social experiments play in research on workplace discrimination and its remedies? How should existing general social science research be used in litigation and policy formulation? What incentives or regulatory measures can be put in place to avoid needless expert battles and ensure candor on the part of expert witnesses?

Moderator: Philip E. Tetlock, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
Eugene Borgida, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota
Glenn Loury, Department of Economics, Brown University
Gregory Mitchell, School of Law, University of Virginia
Sarah Turner, Department of Economics, University of Virginia
Chris Winship, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

10:30 a.m. Break
12 p.m. Lunch