2019 NCWIT Summit: Katherine Phillips – Capturing the Real Value of Diversity: A Close Look at Gender

During the 2019 NCWIT Summit, we sat down with several plenary speakers, workshop presenters, and other change leaders from the NCWIT community to discuss their perspectives on valuing diversity, changing systems (as opposed to “fixing” underrepresented individuals), recognizing bias, and more. The end result was a series of short videos that not only captures what drives these change leaders in their inclusion efforts, but also highlights research-based recommendations from the vast collection of NCWIT resources.

In this video, Dr. Katherine Phillips, a professor at Columbia Business School, breaks down some of the ways in which diverse teams benefit businesses. Not only do coworkers of different genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds bring a plurality of perspectives to each challenge, but “just being exposed to people who look different from yourself triggers you to think more deeply about problems.” To explore this topic more deeply, download the NCWIT report, What is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance? Research Summary.


DR. KATHERINE PHILLIPS: So diversity is a very complicated construct, first of all. Sometimes, just thinking about the definition of the word can catch people off guard. But when I think about diversity, I think about it in a kind of a broad way, both the surface level differences, the things we see, the social categories we have, and deeper level differences, that is, what do we know? The information we bring, the perspectives we bring to the table. And, we know that diversity can be beneficial for teams because people who are different can bring different perspectives that can be very useful for the group. And, it’s also true that just being exposed to people who look different from yourself triggers you to think more deeply about problems, kind of makes you understand and realize that there may be alternative perspectives that need to be considered.

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