Carla Rua-Gomez is an Assistant Professor of Management and Organization at SKEMA Business School, Université Côte d’Azur (GREDEG). She received her PhD from Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in Switzerland. Her research interests revolve around innovation, social networks, and gender inequality.

Could you tell us more about your field of research, particularly gender dynamics in workplace?

My research intersects three main areas: innovation, social networks, and gender inequality. I am particularly interested in understanding how network dynamics perpetuate or limit gender inequality within knowledge-intensive organizations (i.e., the largest pharmaceutical companies worldwide).

What results surprised you the most?

My coauthors and I published a study examining how geographic and network proximity affect men’s and women’s chances of forming high-status connections in pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) laboratories. We found that being in the same geographical location as the star colleague is most beneficial for men because high-status actors tend to infer a colleague’s competence from stereotypically masculine signals, such as assertiveness and self-confidence, which are particularly salient in face-to-face interactions. By contrast, women are particularly effective at building high-status connections via the support of third-party ties because such indirect connections are a powerful means to counteract generalized gender stereotypes and highlight women’s distinctive strengths.

What is the research you are currently carrying out?

I am currently working on different projects building on social networks and gender inequality research. For example, in one of my projects with colleagues from Germany and the US, we explored which groups of employees become more innovative as organizational gender diversity increases. With this work, we aim to better understand past research that has assumed that when gender diversity increases, individual innovative performance increases equally for everyone. By contrast, we argue that some groups of employees are especially (un)likely to benefit from gender diversity.

How does this study impact society at large?

We aim to better understand the different challenges and opportunities women face in the workplace. Women’s representation within the workforce has steadily increased in recent decades. Yet, we still observe gender disparities in most career outcomes. By understanding better which strategies benefit women to overcome part of the gender disparity, we provide organizations with key insights that can help them create interventions to create a more inclusive environment where all employees have equal opportunities.

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