Nicole M. Stephens is Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University and her B.A. from Williams College. As a social and cultural psychologist, her research highlights the role of culture as a powerful and frequently neglected factor in motivating and explaining human behavior. Currently her work examines the role of culture as both a source of and solution to inequality. She has two streams of research. One line reveals how mismatches between the dominant cultures of organizations and the cultures of underrepresented groups in those organizations can fuel inequality. For example, she investigates how the individualistic culture of higher education can increase stress, reduce fit, and undermine the performance of students who are the first in their families to attend college (i.e., first-generation college students). A second line of research leverages this understanding of culture to design and test theoretically informed interventions to improve underrepresented groups’ opportunities to succeed in organizations. For example, in experimental interventions, she shows that creating an organizational culture that includes the experiences and perspectives of first-generation college students, racial minorities, or women can improve these groups’ fit, engagement, and performance. The underlying goal of this research is to develop more diverse and effective schools, workplaces, and communities.
Dr. Stephens’s work is published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Psychological Science and has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, and The Huffington Post.