Powertilt: Examining Power, Influence, and the Myth of Meritocracy Within Technology Teams

This report is stage one in the development of a “powertilt” assessment tool that leaders can use to identify and dismantle “powertilt” phenomena – that is, processes that persistently place power and influence primarily in the hands of majority-group members – and instead create more inclusive forms of influence. Key findings include team members’ perceptions of what characteristics and behaviors make someone more or less influential. We also interpret these findings in light of prior research related to meritocracy, implicit bias, and intersectional social identities. Ultimately, this “powertilt” tool will help organizations and managers identify 1) the primary ways influence operates in a specific team and 2) patterns in who might be favored or disadvantaged by the current culture of influence, particularly in terms of intersectional identities related to gender, race, class, and age.

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