Research Overview

My program of research addresses two key questions: How do gender inequalities in organizations and the labor market persist and how are they perpetuated? How can we shift the status quo and disrupt these biases? Specifically, I adopt a social perception lens to understand how stereotypes and biases contribute to and reify inequality, and how we can harness behavioral insights to correct these biases.

In my first line of work, I investigate how gender inequalities in the labor market and in organizations become perpetuated. My research in this area exposes the reinforcing nature of inequalities in the labor market: people hold stereotypes of occupations, and those who are seen as incongruent with those stereotypes are underrepresented in those occupations (He et al., 2019). When job seekers attempt to overcome the perceived incongruence between their gender and the occupational stereotype, they are penalized for violating prescriptive gender norms, and are thus less likely to receive favorable job outcomes (He & Kang, forthcoming at AMJ).

In my second line of work, I aim to understand how to disrupt these cyclical mechanisms and inform how we can reduce these inequalities. In this work, I depart from approaches that aim to “fix the women” or reduce individuals’ implicit biases, and focus instead on how organizations can make structural changes rooted in organizational design to reduce the impact of biases in personnel selection processes. In my dissertation, I find that women are less likely than men to put themselves forward for promotions when one needs to “opt-in”or self-nominate in order to participate, as is often the case in organizations. However, when the choice to apply for promotions is framed as an “opt-out” (those who pass a qualification threshold are automatically considered unless they opt-out), women are just as likely as men to remain eligible for consideration, suggesting the effectiveness of “opt-out” promotions in closing the gender promotion gap in organizations. In related work, I have partnered with companies to “de-bias” their job postings to recruit a more gender diverse applicant pool.


He, J. C. & Kang, S. K. Covering in cover letters: Gender and self-presentation in job applications. Forthcoming at Academy of Management Journal.

He, J. C., Kang, S. K.,Tse, K., & Toh, S. M. (2019). Stereotypes at work: occupational stereotypes predict race and gender segregation in the workforce. Journal of Vocational Behavior.

He, J. C., Côté, S. (2019). Is self-insight into emotional and cognitive abilities related to adjustment? Nature Human Behaviour.  *Registered Report
– Media coverage: Scientific American, Psychology Today, The Varsity

Select Works in Progress

He, J. C., Kang, S. K. & Lacetera, N. Leaning in or not leaning out? Opt-out choice framing attenuates gender differences in the choice to compete[Working Paper Link].
– Vox EU

He, J. C., Kang, S. K. Re-aligning multiple identities by tweaking job advertisement language.