March 5, 2018

Academics, executives to focus on ‘breaking bias’ in the business world

Ellen Kossek Ellen Kossek
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Academics and executives will meet at Purdue University to highlight the disparity in the number of men and women filling leadership roles, and discuss solutions to “break bias” ingrained into business cultures and practices.

The Krannert School of Management, Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence and the Jane Brock-Wilson Women in Management Center, along with Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, are hosting a three-day conference March 21-23 at Purdue featuring prominent scholars and corporate speakers dedicated to achieving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, especially in the top ranks of businesses and government.

Organizers of the biennial Breaking Bias: Leadership Excellence and Gender in Organizations Conference have announced this year’s theme will be “Bridging the Research to Practice Gap.” Decades of research has exposed the pitfalls facing women seeking career success, although employment and human resource strategies nationwide have yet to catch up, says Ellen Ernst Kossek, Purdue’s Basil S. Turner Professor of Management and research director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center.

Women, for example, compose fewer than 5 percent of CEOs, fewer than 20 percent of board directors in S&P 500 companies and about 20 percent of seats in the United States Congress, Kossek said. 

Candice Lange Candice Lange Download image

“This is one of the first conferences that’s really trying to address the research-to-practice gap,” she said. “You have researchers highlighting the problems – the discrimination and the failure to make change in society – and then we have the companies that are striving, but often facing persistent barriers, to implementing effective programs.”

During the conference, executives from companies tackling the gender diversity issue will share their success stories, while leading scholars will discuss the latest research on women in business.

The conference begins 4 p.m. March 21 in Krannert Auditorium, Room 140 in Krannert Building, with a panel discussion and audience Q&A titled “Work, Gender, Diversity and the Power of Your Voice.” The event is free and open to the public. Speakers include Stacy Blake Beard, the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel professor of women and leadership at Simmons College; Quinetta Roberson, the Fred J. Springer Endowed Chair in Business Leadership at Villanova University; and Christine Krull, head of diversity and inclusion for Roche, a health care and biotech company. Candice Lange, director of the Jane Brock-Wilson Center, will moderate the panel.

“There’s great research going on, and it often ends up in an academic journal and never gets back to businesses where they can actually put some of these findings to use,” Lange said. “What’s exciting about this conference is that it’s bringing together the researchers who are doing the great work and the leaders who want to make their organizations better.”

Also scheduled to speak are experts from Stanford University, Amazon and McKinsey and Company, a global consulting firm. Additional sponsors include the Center for Families and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue. For a full list of speakers, events and registration information, visit

“We have leading global  employers and leading scholars from over 50 universities having a dialogue on how to bridge the gap and different strategies on how to break bias,” Kossek said. “This is really an in-depth, thoughtful look at gender and diversity – not just the hype.”

State Street Redevelopment Project construction will begin again in earnest on March 5, 2018. This work will close portions of Stadium Avenue, McCormick Road, Airport Road and Williams Street and significantly affect surrounding thoroughfares in West Lafayette.

Writer: Joseph Paul, 765-494-9541, 

Sources: Ellen Ernst Kossek, 765-494-6852,

Candice Lange, 765-494-5768,

Note to Journalists: Reporters interested in attending the conference or interviewing a speaker should contact Joseph Paul at 765-494-9541 or

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