Q&A with Gauri Subramani, PhD Candidate
Gauri Subramani is a PhD candidate at the Haas School of Business. Her research involves quantifying the magnitude of gender and resource inequality in innovation contexts, and identifying the mechanisms by which these arise, along with opportunities for interventions to reduce performance gaps. She is also a recipient of EGAL’s Research Grants Program to support her research on the drivers of the gender gap in innovation as measured by patent outcomes.
Prior to beginning her graduate studies, she worked as a political appointee in the Office of Economic Policy at the Department of Treasury under President Obama. She graduated from Wellesley College, where she studied English and Economics.
We connected with Gauri recently through this Q&A where she shares more about her research, how it ties in with her personal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) journey, as well as some advice for those who are looking to pursue research within her field.
How have your lived experiences influenced your journey to the DEI research you are engaged in?
I attended Wellesley College, which is a women’s college, for undergrad. I had always been interested in gender as a lens through which to examine social issues, and my experiences at Wellesley allowed me to see how transformative an environment truly created for women can be. When I came to the PhD program at Haas, which was a very different context, I was motivated to examine the importance of representation from an academic perspective.
How have the findings from your research shaped your own perspectives and leadership approach?
One of the topics I’ve studied is gender differences in response to rejection, specifically in the context of patent applications. One of the takeaways from that research is that persistence, or continuing in a process or with an idea following the receipt of a rejection, is remarkably important in order to have eventual success. In addition, women are more likely to be deterred by rejection than men. I’ve tried to remember the importance of persistence in both my research and personal life; academia is filled with difficult feedback and rejection, but the only way is forward.
How has your field’s approach to research on DEI topics changed since you first started? What has been your favorite development in this work?
There’s a rich literature on gender and discrimination in economics and related fields, and I’ve been heartened to see that there remains significant interest in rigorous work on diversity. I’ve been particularly glad to see that there is growing research on the intersection between innovation and diversity; thinking about who participates in and benefits from innovation and entrepreneurship, and how these two things are linked.
What do you want your legacy to be in your academic discipline as it relates to DEI?
I hope that through my work, I can show the importance of inclusion and leveraging the talents of all individuals for broad growth and an inclusive society. Broadly, if women and minorities are underrepresented in innovation, their talents are underutilized, the inventions that they may have developed are lost, and there are negative implications for the progress of innovation. My goal is to highlight this and hopefully encourage others to think about and study these topics.
What advice would you want to give your younger self? How would you prepare them for the challenges ahead within this field?
Aside from a healthy tolerance for failure, I think it’s important for anyone entering academia and the field of management specifically to seek out mentors who are supportive and are willing to invest in developing students. Getting through a PhD program requires a village composed of both colleagues and friends and family who can help you maintain perspective.