Eden King, Rice University

The “Opt Out” Explanation is Insufficient: Subtle Messages Push Moms Out of Work
Eden King


Winter 2018
Lecture Time: 
Friday, April 6, 2018 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 
R0220 Ross School of Business
Introduced By: 
Kathy Robotham


In spite of Sheryl Sandberg’s call for women to “lean in” to their careers in order to break through persistent glass ceilings, 29 percent of mothers and 10 percent of women with a masters degree leave the workforce to care for their families (Livingston, 2014) and many others “opt out, ratchet back, and redefine work” more broadly (Belkin, 2003). One dominant explanation for this phenomenon is that women are making volitional choices to prioritize their families above their careers. An emerging body of research, however, points to a more complex set of factors that drive mothers’ workplace and family behaviors. This presentation will describe findings from longitudinal and multi-source surveys as well as lab and field experiments that reveal the stereotype-driven messages that women encounter when they have children and the impact of these experiences on women's careers.

Recording & Additional Notes

Dr. Eden King is an Associate Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Rice University. She is pursuing a program of research that seeks to guide the equitable and effective management of diverse organizations. This research-- which has yielded over 100 scholarly products and has been featured in the New York Times, Good Morning America, and Harvard Business Review-- addresses three primary themes: 1) current manifestations of discrimination and barriers to work-life balance in organizations, 2) consequences of such challenges for its targets and their workplaces, and 3) individual and organizational strategies for reducing discrimination and increasing support for families. In addition to her scholarship, Dr. King has consulted on applied projects related to climate initiatives, selection systems, and diversity training programs, and she has worked as an employment discrimination consultant. She is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Management and the Journal of Business and Psychology and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Psychology.