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Women leaders at the Kennedy School of Government were celebrated last Friday at an event acknowledging ten women faculty members recently promoted or hired.
"It has been a great joy for me to be a part of this institution because in the past few years we have found exceptional people," said Dean David Ellwood in his opening remarks at Friday’s seminar sponsored by the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP). Ellwood also expressed the importance of increasing diversity at the Kennedy School and commended the WAPPP for its work in supporting women faculty and gender-focused research.
Following the ceremony, three of the faculty honorees delivered brief presentations highlighting their current research.
Brigitte Madrian, whose research focuses on employee benefits, presented her work on understanding and improving the effect default options have on savings outcomes. "Motivated by a paradox of standard neoclassical economic theory, if transaction costs are small, defaults should not matter," she said. "In practice, however, defaults appear to have quite sizeable effects and a wide range of outcomes,” including outcomes on savings.
Furthermore, Madrian asserted that defaults "affect savings outcomes at every step along the way, from whether individuals are actually saving, to how much they are saving, to what their asset allocation looks like, to what happens to their savings when they retire."
Rohini Pande described her work examining political and economic outcomes related to different types of identity such as ethnicity, gender and religion. She presented her research on female leadership and its effects on the prevalence of gender discrimination as well as her work on religion, conflict and segregation where she examines one Indian city’s religious identity and its effects on migratory patterns.
Iris Bohnet, a behavioral economist, presented her research on trust and gender differences in underlying motivations. Specifically, she measures the behavior of men and women to determine if their motivations differ because of gender. Bohnet described the implications or importance of this research, stating that "if we (policymakers, managers, advisors, consultants) want to foster trust, we have to know why people (do not) trust others."
Other faculty accepting new positions at the Kennedy School this year include Mary Jo Bane, Pinar Dogan, Kelly Sims Gallagher, Barbara Kellerman, Lisa Messersmith, Samantha Power and Sarah Sewall.
Photos: Martha Stewart