Dr Renata Bongiorno
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Washington Singer 210
Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK
I am a Research Fellow working on an ERC funded project: Context, Identity & Choice: Understanding the Constraints on Women’s Career Decisions.
Broad research specialisms
I am a social psychologist studying how stereotypes inform different prejudices and privileges that contribute to inequality (e.g., access to leadership, the law, help from others). I also study collective action and social change (e.g., men's action in support of gender equality, mobilising action to address the climate emergency).
I have mixed-methods expertise, including in advanced quantitative methods, qualitative approaches and in experimental and survey design.
BA (Hons 1) PhD, Australian National University
I received my Ph.D. from the Australian National University focusing on gender prejudice and privilege in leadership and organisational roles more generally. Before joining the University of Exeter in 2017, I was employed in research roles in Australia, including at The University of Queensland to examine biases affecting prosecution and conviction for sexual assault, and by Melbourne Business School to examine impacts of flexible-workplace policies designed to address inequality. I was also employed in a number of teaching roles in Australia, primarily at the University of Queensland.
My published research covers issues of prejudice towards women and privileges afforded to men in leadership, how groups to advance action on climate change form, and how identity and emotion contribute to biases when responding (or failing to respond) to gender-based violence. Some of my ongoing projects include: examining processes important to mobilising men’s action in support of gender equality (supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant); expanding understandings of stereotype content and implications for leader-gender bias and gender and class biases in STEM fields; and paradoxical effects of promoting women's individual resilience to achieve gender equality.
I collaborate with a range of different researchers on these and other projects. Current collaborators include Michelle Ryan (University of Exeter & Global Institute for Women's Leadership, ANU), Colin Wayne Leach (Columbia University), Kim Peters (Exeter Business School), Paul Bain & Leda Blackwood (University of Bath), Pieter Kroonenberg (Leiden University), Colette van Laar (KU Leuven).
My research has received broad media coverage, including by BBC, AFP, The Independent, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Salon, New Scientist, The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Research group links
My research covers topics relevant to social, organisational, political, environmental and cross-cultural psychology as well as psychology and law, and can be grouped into the following three areas:
- Stereotyping and prejudice. My PhD research showed a new prejudice towards tentative rather than assertive women in leadership (lesser influence, greater dislike compared to equivalent men). The findings published in the British Journal of Social Psychology (Bongiorno et al., 2014) are summarised in an article I wrote for The Conversation. They underscored a need to update and refine understandings of gender stereotyping, prejudice and privilege. In my current role, I am extending this work, using a more expansive Power-Benevolence stereotype framework and breakthrough analytical technique that "maps" stereotype content. A preprint describing this theoretical and analytic approach, along with the findings from our first studies examining leader-gender bias, can be found here.
- Collective action/social change. I examine people’s motivations to act collectively to promote social change. My research in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology (Bongiorno et al., 2016) examined how interaction can promote the development of new social groups to advance action on climate change. My ongoing research is extending this work, examining men’s engagement with the gender equality cause. I also have research examining the effects of 'neoliberal feminism' as a way to promote gender equality, a preprint of this research can be found here. Other published work examines how collective action is motivated or undermined by framing (PLoS ONE, Nature Climate Change), and beliefs about a group’s future (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin).
- Gender-based violence. I examine how identity and emotion affect responding to gender-based violence. My published work in this area has focused on men's sexual harassment and sexual assault of women. My publication in Psychology of Women Quarterly (Bongiorno et al., 2020), shows a critical role of empathy for male perpetrators for understanding why women are blamed for being sexually harassed. Other research, summarised in an article I wrote for The Conversation, examines how rape myths bias juror evaluations, particularly when the accused man is from a culturally similar background to perceivers (Psychology of Women Quarterly, Journal of Interpersonal Violence).
- 2020 British Academy/Leverhulme
£9,954 - Engaging men as allies of the gender equality cause. Co-applicants: Dr Oliver Hauser, Prof Colette Van Laar