Let’s Work on Breaking the Mold

By Hailey Crowel and Michelle Travis

A month into school, the 2016 Sloanies are now quite involved in activities on campus.  There are a number of career-focused clubs as well as a few less professionally-oriented organizations (Happy Belly Club, anyone?).  But as members of the Sloan Women in Management club (or SWIM for short), we’re particularly excited about the ongoing Breaking the Mold initiative.

Breaking the Mold is a series of events aimed at starting a conversation about unconscious bias and developing approaches to manage these biases on the road towards equal opportunity for all.  A number of SWIM members were inspired by the work of Project Implicit, a research effort concerning thoughts and feelings that occur outside of conscious awareness or control.  Truth is, many of us unknowingly make decisions based on inherent biases.  By better understanding those biases, we’ll hopefully be more mindful about the actions we take.  Countless research pieces suggest that diversity makes for better teams — and potentially better financial returns.

On September 29th, over 100 students attended the Breaking the Mold kickoff event, “Getting to Better Group Decisions – Why Who You Have in the Room Matters.”  Sloan professor Roberto Rigobon explained why we should all care about diversity in leadership groups, while Professor Evan Apfelbaum reviewed the emerging behavioral science research that speaks to some of the benefits of group diversity for making more accurate and objective decisions.  While these events are hosted by SWIM, in the kickoff it became clear that this is a concern that affects more than just women.

Throughout the fall Breaking the Mold will partner with other campus organizations to host a series of events and activities aimed at promoting diversity across MIT.  On October 29th, Breaking the Mold, GW@MIT, and MIT’s ICEO Office are sponsoring a workshop with Project ImplicitBreaking the Mold will also partner with GW@MIT’s fall leadership conference on October 31st for the first screening of the mini-documentary “MIT and the Status of Women in Science,” an inspiring story of how MIT changed the way colleges and universities recruit and promote women in science.  The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the challenges ahead for women in science and how they can be addressed.  On November 3rd, we will host a Breaking the Mold themed storytelling night through Sloan’s tradition, The Yarn.

Finally, the programming will culminate in the annual SWIM Conference on February 6th, featuring Robin Chase, Zipcar and Buzzcar founder, and Jan Fields, Former President of McDonald’s, as keynote speakers.  For more information on these and other upcoming events check out:  http://www.mitbreakingthemold.com/.