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INSEAD Gender Initiative

INSEAD Gender Initiative

Our Vision and Mission

Kaisa Snellman

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour Academic Director, INSEAD Gender Initiative

Gender imbalance and the resultant experience of women in business and society have consequences for both organisations and the communities they serve. Yet the dynamics, causes, and consequences of gender imbalance are not yet fully understood, limiting our ability to enhance gender balance. Built on INSEAD’s core organisational value of diversity and decades of gender diversity efforts, the Gender Initiative integrates research, business, and pedagogy to engage the full potential of both women and men.


Our community of gender researchers includes psychologists, sociologists, economists, and management and finance scholars who conduct cutting-edge research on the experiences and impact of women in business and society. We are building relationships with organisations to enhance their commitment to gender balance and their ability to fulfil this goal. By striving to create a pipeline of future business leaders who are passionate and...

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Kaisa Snellman

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour Academic Director, INSEAD Gender Initiative

In the Spotlight

Gender Research Lab

Y2022-2023 Speakers

Liao Zhenyu (Organization Development, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY). The Gendered Liability of Novelty: Norm Violation Judgments and Social Approval Forecasting of Novel Ventures from Women Entrepreneurs. June 2023

To hedge unforeseen risk, investors may seek to fund male-led ventures that they anticipate most other investors will prefer, arriving at decisions biased against women. Yet, little is known about how investors infer such gendered preferences and when they are particularly likely to do so. Integrating insights from third-party bias research with social role theory, we posit that when women propose novel ventures, investors are more apt to make unpromising social approval forecasting - an anticipation of the extent to which other investors will endorse these ventures - and thus withhold funding support. This is because the intensified gender role violations due to women being entrepreneurial in tandem with being novel lead investors to impose harsher judgments that these ventures violate normative business practices. Our hypotheses received support from results of three methodologically complementary studies, including one archival study of Shark Tank (2009-2019) and two preregistered online and field experiments. By casting light on how venture novelty, a key determining factor of entrepreneurial success, makes third-party bias against women particularly salient, our work identifies a less overt “entrepreneurial gender dilemma,” which could provide new insights into policymaking for helping women entrepreneurs surmount financial and social barriers in the innovation-based economy.


Asher Lawson (Decision Sciences, INSEAD). Hiring Women into Senior Leadership positions is associated with a reduction in Gender stereotypes in Organizational Language. November 2022

Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions. This underrepresentation is at least partly driven by gender stereotypes that associate men, but not women, with achievement-oriented, agentic traits (e.g., assertive and decisive). These stereotypes are expressed and perpetuated in language, with women being described in less agentic terms than men. The present research suggests that appointing women to the top tiers of management can mitigate these deep-rooted stereotypes that are expressed in language. We use natural language processing techniques to analyze over 43,000 documents containing 1.23 billion words, finding that hiring female chief executive officers and board members is associated with changes in organizations’ use of language, such that the semantic meaning of being a woman becomes more similar to the semantic meaning of agency. In other words, hiring women into leadership positions helps to associate women with characteristics that are critical for leadership success. Importantly, our findings suggest that changing organizational language through increasing female representation might provide a path for women to break out of the double bind: when female leaders are appointed into positions of power, women are more strongly associated with the positive aspects of agency (e.g., independent and confident) in language but not at the cost of a reduced association with communality (e.g., kind and caring). Taken together, our findings suggest that female representation is not merely an end, but also a means to systemically change insidious gender stereotypes and overcome the trade-off between women being perceived as either competent or likeable.


Isabelle Solal (Management, ESSEC). 'Not My CEO’: Gender Effects in Employee Evaluations of the Chief ExecutiveOctober 2022

We explore the impact of gender on a CEO’s ability to garner the support of their employees. Employing the lens of social identity theory and status competition between groups to understand reactions to female leadership, we theorize that employees are less likely to approve of female than of male CEOs. Moreover, we consider how heightened perceptions of threat may moderate penalties for women CEOs, and posit that the approval gap will be wider when female leaders are perceived as more of a threat to the existing gender hierarchy, notably for male employees, and among firms that pursue diversity initiatives in support of women and minorities. Exploiting data from more than 1.2 million employee reviews of U.S. listed firms from, we show that female CEOs receive lower employee approval ratings compared to male CEOs, and that this is driven primarily by male employees. Our results are robust to controls for firm performance, reviewer ratings of employment conditions, as well as indicators of managerial quality as measured by educational credentials, board memberships, and other achievements. We further find that the organization’s diversity ratings moderate the relationship between CEO gender and employee approval. Implications for female leadership are discussed.

Y2021-2022 Speakers

Ella Miron-Spektor (Organisational Behaviour, INSEAD).  Think Funny, Think Female: The Benefits of Humor for Women's Influence in the Digital Age.  June 2022.

Katherine Coffman (Harvard Business School), a joint seminar INSEAD DS/EPS/IGI.  A Dynamic Investigation of Stereotypes, Belief Updating, and Behavior.  Februrary 2022.

Kaisa Snellman (Organisational Behaviour, INSEAD), Maria Guadalupe (Economics, INSEAD), and Daisy Pollenne (Research Associate, INSEAD).  Retaining Talent in Organizations: Diversity, Inclusion and Norms.  February 2022.

Sherrie Xue (PhD Student, INSEAD) and Stephanie Lin (Marketing, INSEAD).  The Adverse Role of Heterosexual Standards in Male Dyadic Consumption Sharing.  January 2022.

Chiara Trombini (IGI, INSEAD).  Self-Affirmation as an Intervention to Mitigate Gender Effects in Negotiations.  October 2021.

Y2020-2021 Speakers

Elisabeth Wolf (Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD) 

Eliot Sherman (London Business School) 

Chiara Spina (Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise, INSEAD).  How do Women-Led Entrepreneruial Firms Manage Change? Experimental Evidence from a Pre-Acceleration Program.  March 2021

Chiara Trombini, Winnie Jiang, and Zoe Kinias (IGI and Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD).  Receiving Social Support Motivates Prosocial Behaviors Within and Beyond Organizations.  February 2021.

Raina Brands (London Business School).  Extending the Construal Approach:  When and Why Women Benefit from Brokerage.  January 2021.

Wesley Koo (Strategy, INSEAD) and Kaisa Snellman (Organisational Behaviour Areas, INSEAD).  Gender Gaps in Entrepreneurship: Evidence from E-Commerce.  December 2020.

Y2019-2020 Speakers

  • Natalia Karelaia (Decision Sciences, INSEAD)
  • Stephen Hwang (Strategy, INSEAD)
  • Modupe Akinola (Columbia Business School & visiting IGI, INSEAD), Chiara Trombini (IGI, INSEAD), and Zoe Kinias (IGI and Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD)
  • Clarissa Cortland (IGI, INSEAD) and Zoe Kinias (IGI and Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD)

Y2018-2019 Speakers

  • Kaisa Snellman and Isabelle Solal (Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD)
  • Dylan Glover (Economics, INSEAD)
  • Alexandra Roulet (Economics, INSEAD)
  • Arianna Marchetti (PhD, INSEAD) and Phanish Puranam (Strategy, INSEAD)
  • Jessica Pan (NUS)

Y2017-2018 Speakers

  • Christiane Bode (Bocconi)
  • Clarissa Cortland (IGI, INSEAD) and Zoe Kinias (IGI and Organisational Behaviour Area, INSEAD)
  • Clément Bellet and David Dubois (Marketing, INSEAD)
  • Isabelle Solal (PhD, INSEAD)
  • Morten Bennedsen (Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise, INSEAD)
  • Xi Kang and Juan Ma (Strategy, INSEAD)
  • Leena Kinger Hans (PhD, INSEAD) and Juan Ma (Strategy, INSEAD)




Jampol L., Rattan A., Wolf Elizabeth B. (2022). A Bias Toward Kindness Goals in Performance Feedback to Women (vs. Men)Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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​Kuwabara K., Cao J., Cho S.S., Ingram P. (2022). Lay Theories of Instrumental Relations: Explaining Individual Differences in Dispositional Similarity-AttractionAcademy of Management Journal

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Miron-Spektor E., Bear J., Eliav E. (2022). Think Funny, Think Female: The Benefits of Humor for Women’s Influence in the Digital AgeAcademy of Management Discoveries 

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Snellman K., Solal I. (2022). Does Investor Gender Matter for the Success of Female Entrepreneurs? Gender Homophily and the Stigma of Incompetence in Entrepreneurial FinanceOrganization Science

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Bennedsen M., Simintzi E., Tsoutsoura M., Wolfenzon D. (2022). Do Firms Respond to Gender Pay Gap Transparency? Journal of Finance

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Del Carpio L., Guadalupe M. (2022). More Women in Tech? Evidence from a Field Experiment Addressing Social IdentityManagement Science

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Bode C., Rogan M., Singh J. (2022). Up to No Good? Gender, Social Impact Work, and Employee PromotionsAdministrative Science Quarterly

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Hardy J.H., Tey K.S., Lai W.C., Martell R.F., Olstad A., Uhlmann E.L. (2022). Bias in Context: Small Biases in Hiring Evaluations Have Big ConsequencesJournal of Management

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Lawson A., Martin A.E., Huda I., Matz S.C. (2022). Hiring Women Into Senior Leadership Positions Is Associated With a Reduction in Gender Stereotypes in Organizational Language (e2026443119)Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS)

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Adbi A., Chatterjee C., Cortland C., Kinias Z., Singh J. (2021). Women’s Disempowerment and Preferences for Skin Lightening Products That Reinforce Colorism: Experimental Evidence From IndiaPsychology of Women Quarterly

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Tierney W.D.,Hardy J.H.,Ebersole C.R.,Leavitt K.,Viganola D.,Clemente E.G.,Dreber A.,Gordon M.,Johannesson M.,Pfeiffer T.,Uhlmann E.Luis. (2020). Creative Destruction in ScienceOrganizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes

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Nault K.,Pitesa M.,Thau S. (2020). The Attractiveness Advantage at Work: A Cross-Disciplinary Integrative ReviewAcademy of Management Annals

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Naumovska I.,Wernicke G.,Hare E.J. (2020). Last to Come and Last to Go? On the Complex Role of Gender and Ethnicity in the Reputational Penalties for Directors Linked to Corporate Fraud. Academy of Management Journal

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Li J.B., Piezunka H.  (2020).  The Uniplex Third: Enabling Single-Domain Role Transitions in Multiplex Relationships.  Administrative Science Quarterly

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Aggarwal V.A., Hsu D.H., Wu A.  (2020).  Organizing Knowledge Production Teams within Firms for Innovation.  Strategy Science

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Hassan K., Varadan M., Zeisberger C.  (2020).  How the VC Pitch Process Is Failing Female Entrepreneurs.  Harvard Business Review Digital Articles

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Cortland C., Kinias Z.  (2019).  Stereotype Threat and Women’s Work Satisfaction: The Importance of Role Models Archives of Scientific Psychology

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Solal I., Snellman K.  (2019).  Women Don't Mean Business? Gender Penalty in Board Composition.  Organization Science

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Petriglieri J., Obodaru O.  (2019).  Secure-Base Relationships as Drivers of Professional Identity Development in Dual-Career CouplesAdministrative Science Quarterly

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Working Papers

Working Papers

Rau R., Sandvik J., Vermaelen T. (2022). Are Women Undervalued? Board Gender Diversity and IPO Underpricing.

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Snellman K., Younkin P. (2021). Who’s the Boss? Evidence of Job Seeker Bias from a Field Experiment. 

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Rau R., Sandvik J., Vermaelen T. (2021). Are Women Underpriced? Board Diversity and IPO Performance.

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Solal I., Snellman K. (2020). The B-Team: Team Prototypes and their Consequences for the Success of Gender-Diverse Groups.

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Year 2023

25 April 2023
"Inclusion in the Workplace".  As part of Barilla Group Associate Spotlight session, this virtual panel discussion focus on advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Featuring IGI Executive Director as one of the panelists.  Event hosted by Barilla Group in collaboration with INSEAD Gender Initiative. 

12 April 2023
"Women in AI".  An interacting panel discussion about advancing diversity and inclusion in the Tech and AI industries. Featuring IGI Executive Director as one of the panelists.  Event hosted by WAI and IBM in collaboration with INSEAD Gender Initiative.

30 March 2023
"Leading The Way".  An engaging and interaction discussion in-person fireside chat in celebration of Women's Empowerment and Equity. The panelists shared on their journey of success in the workplace, and how they break boundaries and drive progress in their career and community. Featuring IGI Executive Director as one of the panelists.  Event hosted by Cloudflare in collaboration with INSEAD Gender Initiative.

28 March 2023
"DigitALL: How do we harness Innovation and Technology to drive Gender Equality". This event brought together an esteemed group of senior women leaders to share their career journeys and insightful reflections on how to thrive professionally and personally in the current global landscape of the gender inequalities with respect to innovation and technologies.  Featuring IGI Executive Director, Vinika Rao as one of the panelists. Event hosted by MasterCard AP in collaboration with INSEAD Gender Initiative. 

15 March 2023
The 2nd Annual International Women's Day Symposium - "Leading Fearlessly with Your Authentic Voice". Panel discussion on the importance of your unique voice and being true to yourself in your leadership style (as well as the challenges and benefits of doing so). The panelists shared their personal experiences, lessons learned, and strategies for navigating difficult situations while staying true to their authentic selves. This event is designed to encourage attendees to reflect on their own leadership style and authenticity in their respective fields. Featuring IGI Executive Director, Vinika Rao as one of the panelists. 

07 February 2023
"Exploring the Meaning of DEI in Global Communities".  An engaging and interaction discussion on DEI core concepts, best practices, and strategies to foster allyship and inclusive environments.  Featuring IGI Executive Director, Vinika Rao as one of the panelists. 

19 January 2023
"The Role of Allyship in Advancing Gender Equality & Inclusive Leadership".  INSEAD commits to cultivating a community that pursues equity, exemplifies inclusion and cherishes diversity in all its dimensions. During this event, experts shared insights on how allyship can advance gender equality and inclusive leadership in the workplace throughout Asia. Featuring IGI Executive Director, Vinika Rao as one of the panelists. 

Year 2022-2020

15 December 2022
"TiE Global Summit 2022".  Reveal of the Global Grand Prize winner of TiE Global Pitch Competition 2022 for Women, who will emerge as the best global women founders delivering social impact and sustainable business – doing well by doing good.   TiE event in SG for SEA was held on 28 July 2022, where Vinika is the Chair of the TiE women Singapore where IGI was the knowledge partner.

01 December 2022
- CHRO Series 2022 on "Enhancing the Culture of Respect and Inclusion in the Workplace".  Diversity and Inclusion remain top priorities of organisations everywhere.  A fireside chat with Vinika Rao on how HR leaders are making workplaces even more welcoming and how organisations are increasingly becoming a positive contributor to societal change.

14 November 2022
"Retaining Talent in Organizations: Masculinity, Inclusion and Norms" in Conference on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Economics, Finance, and Central Banking.  Paper by Guadalupe Maria, Pollenne Daisy and Snellman Kaisa.  Click here for webcast.

11 November 2022
APAC D&I Corporate Roundtable Meeting.  Vinika Rao presented on the importance of continuous gender and broader diversity training. Webinar. 

25 August 2022
- 11th Asian Women in Leadership Summit: "Integrating Diversity & Inclusion with Sustainability Strategy", webinar

28 July 2022
TiE Global Pitch Competition 2022 for Southeast Asia: Women Founders - Doing Well by Doing Good. Hosted by TiE Singapore, TiE Women in partnership with IGI as Knowledge Partner.  Dr. Vinika Rao, Executive Director of IGI delivered the opening address as Chair of TiE WOmen Singapore.   Final Global Winner shall be revealed in December 2022. 

17 June 2022 
- Vinika Rao spoke at the 1st Asia Pacific Women in Surgery Advisory Board Meeting.  

06 June 2022
- Professor Zoe Kinias led the "How to be an Ally" workshop, which kicked off a series of events organized by OUTSEAD, to celebrate Pride Month. 

21 May 2022
- Zoe Kinias, Vinika Rao, and Dirk Luyten spoke at the “Gender and the Future of Work” Forum - ChangeNOW Summit. Details here

17 March 2022
- INSEAD LIfelong Learning hosted the webinar "How to Integrate Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Businesses". Speakers: Kay Formanek, Zoe Kinias, and Dirk Luyten. Moderator: Vinika Rao. 

14 January 2022
- Professor Zoe Kinias shared research in collaboration with Dr. Chiara Trombini and Prof. Winnie Jiang on how receiving social support motivates global business leaders and workers to engage in prosocial behaviors. This research tests the impact of receiving social support at interpersonal, organizational, and societal levels.

09 December 2021
- Vinika Rao, Executive Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative, spoke at the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Global Conference organized by The Conference Board. Agenda and details here.

17 November 2021
- INSEAD Gender Initiative participated in the event "GBSN Beyond: Virtual Conference Reimagined". Dr. Vinika Rao, Executive Director of the IGI, moderated an exciting session on the impact of COVID-19 on gender equity and on some strategies to proactively center gender equity in our recovery efforts. More info here.

17 September 2021
- As part of the Asia Employee Wellbeing Week, Vinika Rao spoke on "Why a Specific Focus on Women’s Wellbeing?". Vinika discusses how the past few years impacted gender inclusion efforts in the workplace as well as solutions going forward.

15 September 2021
- As part of the Diversity Week, Zoe Kinias, INSEAD Associate Professor and Academic Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative, led an Allyship Workshop.

07 July 2021
- Vinika Rao, executive director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative, offered insights into the conversation on "Managing Diversity in Distributed Teams" at The Future of Teams Conference hosted by Cosmic Centaurs.

27-29 May 2021
- Zoe Kinias, academic director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative, spoke on "Motivating Women's Empowerment and Other Societal Benefits", at the Driving Change for the Planet - ChangeNOW Summit.

22 March 2021
International Women's Day 2021, Panel discussion by GEMBA 2022, supported by the INSEAD Gender Initiative.

3-5 November 2020
- As part of the SDG Week 2020, a thought-provoking session on diversity, inclusion and how best to address, incorporate and support such conversations and initiatives at the workplace. "The conversation has to come from the perspective of the people who experience what the challenges are," Morgan Stanley’s Managing Director, Lucy Quist reminded us alongside an impressive panel of Marlon Bowman (FNB South Africa’s Head of Customer Experience), Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz (Mirvac’s CEO & Managing Director), Felicia Henderson (Henderson Advising’s Founder), and INSEAD Professor Zoe Kinias. For a recording of the webinar, click here.

29 October 2020
- Stephanie Creary, Assistant Professor of Management at Wharton, discusses and provides insights on how we can be an ally for Black colleagues. Zoe Kinias, INSEAD Associate Professor and Academic Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative, moderates the discussion. For a recording of the webinar, click here.

26 October 2020
- Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) & the INSEAD Middle East campus in Abu Dhabi co-host a live webcast session to shed light on policies and practices shaping organizational culture in a gender-positive manner with expert speakers from INSEAD, Aurora50, ADNOC Group and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). For a recording of the webinar, click here.

24 June 2020
- Modupe Akinola, INSEAD’s Gender Initiative (IGI) Visiting Professor and Columbia Business School Associate Professor, shares insights on gender differences in an important leadership skill: delegation. For a recording of the webinar, click here.

16 July 2020
- Felicia Henderson, EMCCC '17 Science Po Adjunct Professor and Leadership Consultant, discusses the construction of anti-Black racism as a belief system conceived and maintained in support of colonial economic ambitions. For a recording of the webinar, click here.

09 June 2020
- INSEAD’s Gender Initiative (IGI), in collaboration with INSEAD’s Women in Business (IWiB) alumni, shares insights from business leaders and extant research findings on how to utilize the COVID disruption toward developing gender balance. For a recording of the webinar, click here.

23 April 2020
- INSEAD Professor and Academic Director of Global Private Equity Initiative Claudia Zeisberger moderated a panel discussion on "Venture Capital in Times of Stress".

Annual Report

IGI Annual Report 2021-2022

INSEAD Gender Initiative - Annual Report AY2021-2022

This annual report provides a detailed insight into the work and achievements of the Centre in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Learn more