Mathematical model of gender bias and homophily in professional hierarchies

Faculty Member

Sara Clifton

Women have made great strides in business, academia, and government, yet the dearth of women at the highest levels of leadership remains. Sociologists have attributed the leaky progression of women through professional hierarchies to various cultural and psychological factors (such as self-segregation) as well as promotion bias. With the goal of understanding the relative roles that bias and homophily (self-seeking) play in the ascension of women through professional hierarchies, we will explore a model that incorporates both forces. To validate the model, we will assemble and analyze a database of gender fractionation over time for several dozen professional hierarchies. By quantifying the degree of homophily and bias in each professional hierarchy, we may propose specific interventions to achieve gender parity more quickly.

Team Meetings


Project Difficulty


Undergrad Prerequisites

Coding skills in Matlab, Python, or similar required. Experience with ODEs or dynamical systems preferred.