Q&A with Juliana Schroeder, PhD

Juliana Schroeder is an Associate Professor in the Management of Organizations group at Berkeley Haas and teaches Negotiations and Conflict Resolution. She is also a Faculty Affiliate in the Social Psychology Department, the Cognition Department, and the Center for Human-Compatible AI at UC Berkeley.

Dr. Schroeder researches how people navigate their social worlds, including how people form inferences about others’ mental capacities and how these inferences influence their interactions. In particular, she studies how language affects the expression of one’s own — and the evaluation of others’ — mental capacities. She is also the recipient of a research grant from the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) to further her research around structuring effective conversations that cross divides. Her research has been published in a wide range of academic journals and book chapters, as well as featured by various media outlets.

EGAL recently connected with Dr. Schroeder to learn more about her work and some of the personal learnings she’s had through her research. She discusses the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion topics in her field, and shares about an Equity Fluent Leader who has shaped her own journey.

How have the findings from your research shaped your own perspectives and leadership approach?

A lot of my research focuses on interpersonal misunderstandings and I’ve been able to update my own beliefs quite a bit based on the results. One thing we’ve found is that small acts of kindness — everything from talking to a stranger, giving someone a compliment, expressing gratitude, or providing feedback — are much more appreciated and go a lot farther than people realize. So I’ve worked to incorporate that into my leadership approach. Another thing I study is how to be better at resolving conflict. I’ve developed a set of empirically-supported tools, like having conflict conversations by phone or in-person instead of by email, that I definitely use in my own life.

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 has been so much progress on research DEI topics in my field, which is very exciting. I’ve been particularly excited about better causal evidence looking at the efficacy of interventions meant to alleviate intergroup conflict; there are now some pretty good experiments that test psychological theories like intergroup contact theory in consequential field settings (like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict).

What advice would you want to give your younger self? How would you prepare them for the challenges ahead within this field?

Stay focused on why you find your work meaningful and important — this will carry you through hard times. I still give myself this advice, actually. Before every talk I give, I remind myself why I’m excited about the research and why I think it is consequential.

Who is a notable Equity Fluent Leader who inspires you? What are the traits that make them such an effective leader?

My colleague Laura Kray, who is the faculty director of EGAL, is definitely inspiring. She has been a leader in pushing forward research on topics like gender in new and interesting ways, and I think really improving the rigor of the entire field.

At the heart of UC Berkeley's Business School, the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership educates equity-fluent leaders to ignite and accelerate change.

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