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Lauren J. Aguilar
Postdoctoral Scholar 2011-12

Lauren Aguilar earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Aguilar’s dissertation “Gender Identity Threat in Same & Mixed-Gender Negotiations: Speech Accommodation & Relational Outcomes” examines how “stereotype threat” contributed to the under-representation of women in traditionally male fields such as business, law, and management. While current research shows that stereotype threat, or the apprehension that one will be evaluated on the basis of stereotypes, accounts for some of the gender achievement gap on evaluative tests, we know little about how stereotype threat affects women during everyday social interaction. Aguilar’s research implies that subtle cues in interpersonal communication affect how women are perceived and relate to others in professional settings when stereotypes hang in the air. In her dissertation work she investigated how gender stereotypes affect nonconscious communication, interpersonal relations, and instrumental performance in negotiation—a highly gender-stereotyped domain. Aguilar’s work shows that stereotypes can undermine women’s instrumental and relational performance in ways that often go unnoticed, which may further perpetuate stereotypes about women in male-dominated domains and ultimately hinder women’s career success.

During her Clayman Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Aguilar will begin a new project in collaboration with Stanford Professor, Greg Walton. In this project, Aguilar will focus on women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The study will illuminate how subtle cues of social inclusion or exclusion, which emerge in everyday interpersonal workplace interactions, shape women’s experience, performance, and retention in these fields.