I study inequality in business performance using large-scale field experiments and novel survey data. Drawing on sociology and organizational behavior, I focus on understanding the causes of this inequality. I am passionate about using the most rigorous social scientific theories and methods to understand this phenomenon, particularly among entrepreneurs in emerging economies. By generating novel data, my fieldwork allows me to test specific mechanisms driving earnings disparities among business owners, generate new theoretical insights, and ultimately carries important policy implications. My research agenda focuses on what drives variation in profits across firms and how we could reduce inequality in business performance among entrepreneurs in different market settings, including India, Uganda, and the US. In the three papers of my dissertation, I study how business characteristics, client search behavior, and peer-to-peer advice among entrepreneurs affect business success.
I have been a teaching assistant for two classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), and I also served as a TA at l’Institut d’Études Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. In those roles, I worked closely with the lead instructor in implementing their lesson plans and meeting with students. I learned a lot about teaching from those instructors, but one of the things I learned was that, while there are best practices, your teaching style must be your own. Simply copying a successful lecturer is a recipe for failure. In my own teaching, I plan to draw on my experience as a field experimentalist and my background as a woman researcher studying gender in organizations to build elements of business analytics and entrepreneurship in developing countries into my lesson plans.
Job Market Paper
Gender inequality manifests itself at every step of the entrepreneurial process. By the time a woman is running her business, multiple factors have already constrained her profitability. How much of the gender gap can be explained by buyer’s behavior in the marketplace as against supply-side differences? Buyers might behave differently based on 1) a seller’s gender or 2) differential business characteristics by gender. To address this problem of confounding, we ran two field experiments that hold constant business characteristics and vary the owner’s gender, thus separating supply from demand factors. Before our randomized experiments, we collected data in India showing that men earn 50% more than women, men’s inventory is 40% larger than women’s and buyers are more likely to buy from male sellers. We set up our own market stalls in three different markets, keeping hours worked, location, size and setup constant, and provided the same type, quantity, and quality of goods to 272 owners–regardless of gender. To further test for demand-side discrimination, we also set up two shops in a large vegetable market and recruited confederate sellers to sell packaged goods using a standardized script. Our results show that providing men and women with the same business closes the gender gap in profitability, ruling out buyer’s discrimination. Women can earn as much as men, if given equal opportunity to do so. This finding challenges existing conclusions about the causes of the gender gap in business ownership and performance.