Grant Recipients 2019

Ava Barnett, Student

Amy Barnett

Why Female Leaders Receive Different Feedback than Men and How it Influences Their Motivation to Be Leaders: A Role Congruity and Stereotype Content Perspective

This project reviews current research on the relationship between leadership and gender. Researchers have studied gender and leadership substantially and have found significant differences and inequalities in many aspects of how men and women lead and are evaluated as leaders – most notably that female leaders are evaluated less favorably than their male counterparts. The studies in the present paper seek to understand whether the content of the negative feedback female leaders receive from their subordinates differs substantially from the negative feedback male leaders receive. Further, this project aims to determine whether female leaders are more or less motivated to continue in their positions of leadership. It is predicted that female leaders are evaluated on the dimension of warmth while male leaders are evaluated on the dimension of competence, in accordance with the Stereotype Content Model.

Ryan Scott Coles, Student

Ryan Scott Coles

Equality and the Spirit of Capitalism: The Impact of Income Equality on Entrepreneurship

We study the impact of income equality on entrepreneurship in emerging market communities. Scholarship generally argues that increased income equality reduces overall levels of entrepreneurship because economic elites will have less excess capital to re-invest into new businesses, there will be less incentive to practice entrepreneurship, and fewer people will be pushed into necessity-driven entrepreneurship. We advance an alternative theory based on research showing that increased economic equality increases social trust, as well as research showing that increased social trust increases entrepreneurship. Specifically, we theorize that increased income equality increases both the level and quality of entrepreneurial activity in communities because increased income equality increases social trust. We intend to test hypotheses drawn from this argument using data from Mexico that tracks the entrepreneurial activity in every municipality in the country for the years 2000, 2005, and 2010. Longitudinal and within-country analysis remedy the methodological weakness of prior empirical work in this area.

Shayla Combs, Henessy Pineda and MILRSO, Students

Shayla Combs and Henessy Pineda

The Changing Face of Work

Through motivation and conversation, this conference will be a think-tank for creative and out-of-the-box solutions to issues concerning inequality for today’s workforce. The initiatives drafted during our breakout sessions will be utilized and considered for implementation by esteemed companies. Through our keynote presentation and breakout sessions led by top companies in the ILR industry, we hope to create community over the commonalities of inequality experienced in the workplace.

Tiffany Nur Darabi, Student

Tiffany Nur Darabi

Inequality and the World of Work: Reimagining Investors, Owners and Workers to Close the Racial Wealth-Divide in Boston

In response to rising income inequality, new organizations are emerging to challenge the distribution of power and resources across investors, owners, and workers and promote a more equitable economic system. The Boston Ujima Project exemplifies these efforts. Ujima aims to close the racial wealth divide in Boston—the largest in the country—by operating a democratic investment fund within the city’s most impoverished communities. Working-class people of color are fund investors and the sole decision-makers in the capital distribution process. Businesses receiving investments are majority-owned by people of color and follow standards developed by community members, such as the payment of a living wage. This project leverages an in-depth case study of Ujima to develop new insights into the role of intermediary organizations in restructuring traditional investor, owner, and worker relationships to reduce inequality and foster more equitable local economies.

Virginia L Doellgast, Ileen DeVault, Ian Greer, Rose Batt, Patricia Campos-Medina, Gene Carroll, Kim Cook, and Jeff Grabelsky

Ileen DeVault and Virginia Doellgast

NYC Labor Movement Practicum: Campaigning for Social Justice

The proposed NYC Labor Movement Practicum will allow ILR students to engage with worker organizations (unions and worker centers) and labor leaders in New York City during a 2 day trip to the Worker Institute. Students will participate in a workshop on union leadership, engage in a roundtable discussion with labor leaders, and visit 2 worker organizations.

Hassan Enayati, Extension Faculty

Hassan Enayati

Clearing the Path to Gender Pay Equity: Assessing the Understanding of New York City’s Salary History Question Ban Among Workers

One method to improve pay equality is to weaken the path dependence of compensation. Recently, advocates for gender pay equity have been championing a new regulation spreading in states and municipalities across the country, salary history question bans. The regulation prohibits employers from asking about a candidate’s prior salary during the interview process. New York City (NYC) began enforcing a salary history question ban in 2017. The ban aims to prevent inequality in prior compensation from affecting compensation at a new job. This study examines the extent to which workers in NYC understand their rights under the ban and explores variation across demographic subgroups. Proposal funding will support the design and testing of a survey among workers in NYC. The project will connect ILR extension researcher faculty, an ILR undergraduate student, and the Cornell Survey Research Institute on contemporary workplace policy with significant potential impact on pay inequality.

Matthew McSorley Fischer-Daly, Student

Matthew McSorley Fischer-Daly

Collective Action Confronting Inequality: Comparative Labor Regimes in Contemporary Agribusiness

Amidst vast inequality that characterizes contemporary society, some workers have gained a greater share of created value through collective action. Employment relations scholarship has highlighted multiple sources of bargaining power – particularly resources used by workers confronting institutions that do not protect labor standards – and queried why certain groups of workers succeed in establishing dignified employment relations despite the obstacles. My research project compares labor regimes – worker, company, and state strategies in relation to each other – in the production and sales nodes of strawberry supply chains in the three largest exporters – Mexico, Spain, and the United States. The sector evinces trends understood as contributors to inequality, particularly concentration of market power, network organization of supply chains, financialization, and under-enforcement of labor standards. I compare the patterns suggested by the cases against the preliminary hypothesis that workers effectively counter power imbalances and improve their employment relations by demanding recognition of their human dignity throughout a sequential power-building process.

Richard Green and Undergraduate Labor Institute, Students

Climate and Labor

When the Undergraduate Labor Institute was founded last semester, we devised our tagline as “Exploring the World of Work.” However, we want to do more than that. Including community members in our research, we want to understand how inequality became so embedded in the modern workplace. There are various inequalities that may stem from or become exacerbated by the climate crisis, and as such, our publication will focus on a breadth of issues involving workers who have been or will be affected by climate change, as well as possible resolutions for those who have been disenfranchised by humanity’s maltreatment of the planet. Through our theme of Climate and Labor for Fall 2019, we hope to expand the breadth of information available for people who are in the workplace and entering the workplace.

Andi Kao, Student

Andi Kao

The Making of Migrant Labor in the Taiwanese Commercial Fishing Industry

I am applying for funding to support a social documentary project with Indonesian migrant workers employed aboard Taiwanese-owned fishing vessels. The proposed research project will take place in Donggang, Taiwan in Spring 2020. I will examine how migrant workers make sense of their lived experiences by asking Indonesian migrant fishermen to articulate self-representational narratives through social documentary. In doing so, my project centers creative self-expression to illuminate how Indonesian migrant fishermen make narrative sense of their social positions and relations within a migrant labor regime supplying cheap and exploitable workers to the lucrative Taiwanese commercial fishing industry. My project seeks to reveal how these relational narratives express political demands and make claims against dominant ideologies, norms, values, and practices. I will describe, in particular, how migrant fishermen negotiate hierarchies of race/ethnicity, gender, class, and citizenship organizing the social relations of production in global seafood production.

Angelica Keen, Jessie Mancilla and Brigid Beachler, Staff

Angelica Keen, Brigid Beachler and Jessie Mancilla

Cultivating Social Resiliency Amongst Inequality

The ILR Offices of Student Services, Career Services and Off-Campus Programs are organizing a Social Impact Alumni Panel focusing on Cultivating Social Resiliency Amongst Inequality. The panel aims to bring together ILR undergraduate and graduate students to learn from ILR alumni in the social impact sector. Our hope in facilitating this panel is to promote the extraordinary work of ILR alumni in fostering resiliency amongst inequalities in their respected communities.

Alexandra Nicole Kosakoff, Student

Alexandra Nicole Kosakoff

Mental Health Workplace Disability Policy in Practice

Mental health is a pressing issue at Cornell, not only for students, but faculty, staff and administration as well. Our panel, Mental Health Workplace Disability Policy in Practice, will address the disadvantages people with disabilities face in the workplace, especially related to mental health issues, and policies and regulations that might affect their employment.

Brian Lucas, Faculty

Brian Lucas

(Anti-)Egalitarian Attitudes Influence Willingness to Evaluate Ideas of Creators from High-Status Versus Low-Status Backgrounds

Creative ideas¬ (i.e., novel and useful ideas) are valuable for advancing the livelihood of workers, workplaces, and societies. Research finds that creative ideas can be generated by most people and can come from all levels of an organization. However, a creative idea’s value is only realized if that idea is granted an audience (i.e., gatekeepers are willing to evaluate the idea in the first place). If ideas from creators from high-status versus low-status backgrounds are differentially preferred, then the willingness to evaluate an idea can drive (in)equality. We investigate whether (anti-)egalitarian attitudes influence willingness to evaluate an idea. We hypothesize that anti-egalitarian attitudes (i.e., preference for hierarchical societies) predict a preference for evaluating ideas from creators with higher-status backgrounds and, conversely, egalitarian attitudes (i.e., preference for flatter societies) predict a preference for evaluating ideas from creators with lower-status backgrounds. We demonstrate how differential willingness to evaluate ideas can influence (in) equality.

Timothy McNutt, Extension Faculty

Timothy McNutt

Tompkins County Jail Reentry Program: Mitigating the Use of Criminal Records as a Screening Device for Employment

Nearly one in three U.S. adults—70 million Americans—has a criminal record. Having even a minor criminal record, such as a misdemeanor or an arrest without conviction, can present obstacles to employment. This collaborative project involves students, staff, and faculty working together to remove barriers to employment for people with criminal records in Tompkins County Jail through a multifaceted educational program focusing on employment laws and rights related to a criminal record, covering federal, state, and local laws. The legal education and employment rights training, developed by a former prosecutor and an employment attorney, enhances participants’ knowledge of what is on their criminal record, teaches options for record correction, sealing, or certificates of relief, and informs them about their rights when a background check is undertaken by an employer. ILR undergraduate assistants will analyze administrative data collected at the end of the training to determine what impact, if any, the training has on job seeking behaviors, knowledge of employment rights, and pursuit of some form of record clearance.

Avery Putnam and Sidney Waite, Students

Avery Putnam and Sidney Waite

A Closer Look into Disability Resource Centers

The aim of this research project is to educate the general public about what resources are available in the workplace for individuals with disabilities via a documentary. To explore how society is combating the barriers that people face when trying to obtain a job, integrate themselves into the social scene of the workplace, or pursue fulfilling and fruitful careers, this project team will interview two specific resource centers for individuals with disabilities: The Yang Tan Institute and the Finger Lakes Independence Center. Moreover, to fully gauge the extent to which society is focusing on the assimilation and integration of this minority group, this report will take a comprehensive look into the specific accommodations, rules and regulations accessible, and any other efforts being made to decrease “undue hardship,” and facilitate inclusivity.

Hannah Ritter and Daniel Kirchner, Students

ILR Labor Roundtable

The ILR Labor Roundtable is an annual event that brings a wide range of representatives in labor leadership, unions, and social justice organizations to campus to engage in dynamic, in-depth conversations with students. Through these discussions, students gain exposure to current trends in the labor movement and the fundamental role that it plays in bringing about social change. It will take place on November 15th, 2019 from 1pm – 5pm in the Statler Hotel Carrier Ballroom, and it is open to students from all colleges and degree programs. Focused on helping students find careers in fighting inequality, the Labor Roundtable is supported by a variety of departments and is student-led.

Jennifer L. Rudolph, Staff and Speech and Debate

Jennifer L. Rudolph

Public Debate: Unions, Inequality and Work

The Cornell Speech and Debate Department seeks to build community in ILR by opening an opportunity to the students, staff and faculty to attend a public debate. Framed through the ILR School Theme Project: Inequality and Work, this public debate will examine Unions by presenting the following motion: Have Unions been effective in the fight against inequality and will they be in the future?

Ishan Kabir Sharma, Student

Ishan Kabir Sharma

Colored Lenses: How Racial Stereotypes Affect Third-Party Observations of Conflict

Managers spend a substantial amount of their time managing workplace conflict situations (Thomas 1992). But little is known in how their interpretations of such conflict are colored by racial stereotypes. Using a series of experimental vignettes on conflict scenarios of varying racial compositions, this study suggests that race may influence managers’ perception and assessment of conflict. More specifically, it evaluates managerial interpretations of scenarios as it relates to 1) the detection of conflict and 2) the classification of conflict. With workplace conflicts likely to increase in the 21st century as the workplace shifts towards team-based decision making, tracing how managers’ interpretation of conflict may be affected by stereotypes will prove important for further establishing equity in the workplace.

Michael John Stefanko, Student

Michael Stefanko

Chinese Foreign Direct Investment's Contribution to Income Inequality: A Kenyan Worker's Perspective

The objective of this project is to provide a qualitative understanding of the workplace environment created by Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa. It will also contextualize an average worker’s perspective to a quantitative and empirical literature base that identifies Chinese foreign investment as a contributor to income inequality in developing countries.

Kenyan trade unions are an insightful case study into the relationship between foreign investors and domestic workers’ rights, especially concerning FDI’s contribution to income inequality in developing countries. Kenya’s higher than average economic growth rate, strong union membership, and Chinese FDI make for increased tensions that have already materialized in strikes and push back from notable Kenyan trade unions. As investment continues to pour into the country, income inequality rises by its sides.

Over ten days, we will interview Kenyan trade union members, day-laborers, and government officials throughout and nearby Nairobi and Mombasa regarding their experiences with Chinese FDI projects. We will also compile footage of these interviews to show the impact that investment has on the lives of workers. The outcome of this project is the amplification of the lived experiences of laborers who work on projects funded by foreign investment, and from their perspective, how FDI has contributed to income inequality.

Phoebe Strom, Student

Phoebe Strom

‘Drawing the line’: How workplace experiences influence individual perceptions of sexual harassment

In the era of #MeToo, sexual harassment has emerged as a key driver of inequality in the workplace, disproportionately inflicting personal and professional harm on women, people of color, LGBTQ populations, and low-income employees. However, what has been less explored is how sexual harassment not only perpetuates inequality but arises from it. To this point—diverging from previous research focused on demographic differences—we propose that individual beliefs about what ‘counts’ as sexual harassment are shaped by workplace practices and norms. Given that personal definitions influence the propensity of perpetrators to harass, the willingness of bystanders to intervene, and the likelihood of victims to report, this research suggests that widening disparities in job quality may be a source of sexual harassment’s continued prevalence, but also represent an opportunity for positive intervention.

Russell Weaver, Extension Faculty

Russell Weaver

Alternatives to Inequality: Employee Ownership and Democracy at Work

Workplaces do not exist in vacuums. The inequalities within work spaces are often reflections of broader societal struggles. Over the last 25 years, there has been an increasing movement toward organizing workers to achieve economic security through such mechanisms as employee stock ownership programs (ESOPs) and cooperative business ownership. This project proposes to analyze the geographic sites and situations of ESOPs and cooperatives in Buffalo, NY, and to explore their relationships to community- and city-wide indicators of equity and broad-based economic prosperity. Findings will be used to provoke community conversations and offer an alternative set of thinking and strategies about how workplaces can combat inequality by generating wealth and power in marginalized communities through employee ownership of capital and labor.

Allison Weiner Heinemann, Lecturer and LaWanda Cook, Training Specialist, Northeast ADA Program

Allison Weiner Heinemann and LaWanda Cook

Visit from Katherine Pérez, Director of the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation at Loyola Law School

A vital understanding of inequality and work necessitates recognition of how individuals with marginalized social identities face barriers to, and within, employment. Moreover, today’s increasingly diverse workforce requires thoughtful consideration of the ways in which these barriers are compounded when individuals are multiply marginalized. As both a person with lived experience and an attorney-advocate, Katherine Pérez is at the forefront of national and global intersectional research, activism, and policy that addresses how people with disabilities who have multiply marginalized identities face unemployment, underemployment, and unwelcoming workplaces at disproportionate rates. We seek to bring Katherine to ILR, to visit the Spring 2020 Intersectional Disability Studies class and to engage with the wider ILR community, in a school-wide lecture, other class visits, and workshop with community members. The opportunity to learn from Katherine would allow ILR students, faculty, and staff to meaningfully understand the role of intersectionality in both compounding barriers to equality in employment for multiply marginalized communities and in eradicating these barriers. Through such an understanding, the ILR community can achieve greater commitment to, and effectiveness in, tackling inequality in the world of work for all individuals.

Lydia Zheng, Student

Harvest of Struggle: A Case Study of Union Experience in the Decades Following Union Election and First Contract Campaigns (Part II)

Inequality has become dominant in every part of life, especially in the workplace. Past research done in the Cornell Office of Labor Education Research has demonstrated low wage women of color were most likely to organize and to play an active role in the organizing effort. This study focuses specifically on how unions are meeting the needs of low wage women of color within their membership by examining how their lives have changed both in and out of work. We hope to provide insight into how the labor community is addressing the impact of unionization on inequality, and how to alleviate inequality more broadly.