2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Victoria Brescoll, Yale School of Management

Victoria L. Brescoll

Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior

Yale University School of Management


Victoria Brescoll, Yale School of Management

Victoria Brescoll, Yale School of Management

Earlier this year, Yale School of Management professor Victoria Brescoll told the BBC World Service that powerful women – even in the U.S. Senate – were less likely to speak up while on the job than powerful men, because they feared blowback for being pushy. And, the organizational behavior prof told the broadcaster, they had good reason for that concern: men, and women, have unconscious biases against women who assert themselves. Brescoll specializes in the study of how stereotypes affect people’s status and power within organizations. Her Yale social psychology PhD dissertation earned her a “best paper” award from the Academy of Management, and Yale has also given her a teaching award. Her research into effects of workplace gender stereotyping receives widespread coverage in major media, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Age: 39

At current institution since: 2008

Education: PhD, social psychology, Yale University, 2008

Courses currently teaching: Managing Groups & Teams (MBA, eMBA), Leadership Fundamentals

Professor you most admire: Paul Rozin

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…” Honestly, I love teaching and doing research so much that I would probably just be a psychology professor. But if I had a completely different kind of career, I would either be a researcher in a non-profit think tank focused on women’s issues or I would (try to) make money by renovating and flipping old homes.

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor:  I taught my first class completely on my own when I was a third year doctoral student at Yale. I worked extremely hard to make the class a good one for my students. On the last day of class, my students surprised me by putting on a small a capella performance singing a song that they had written for me. It was touching, humbling and joyful all at the same time.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? A study of mine on gender discrimination that had gotten a good amount of media attention was featured in a really funny 5-minute sketch on one of my favorite TV shows (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsB1e-1BB4Y For a few months after the show aired, friends and acquaintances continued to send me the link to the segment.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? I love almost everything about teaching.  Generally, I find pedagogy (i.e., thinking about how to best communicate an idea or concept) one of the most challenging and enjoyable parts of my job.  In some of the classes I teach, I cover topics that are personally very important to me—such as ways to communicate in small group settings that makes all members, regardless of their race, gender or background, feel comfortable contributing their expertise.  The times I feel like I’ve successfully taught some of these skills to my students—when I’ve felt that I’ve really connected with them—have been the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of teaching for me.

What do you enjoy least?  Handling mundane details (I’m terrible at this).

Fun fact about yourself: I used to work for Hillary Clinton when she was the junior Senator from New York state.  It was a fantastic job and an incredible experience, but very stressful!

Favorite book: I couldn’t possibly choose just one.  Right now, some of my favorites are: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert; This is Water by David Foster Wallace (this is not a book, per se, but actually a graduation speech he gave before he passed away… I have an audio recording of him reading the speech and I’ve probably listened to it more than 100 times)

Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice (1995 BBC production)

Favorite type of music: I love listening to most all kinds of music (except country)

Favorite television show: Fixer Upper (a renovation show on HGTV)

Favorite vacation spot: Bali, Indonesia (I love to travel so this is hard, but Bali was the last place I traveled to and I absolutely loved it)

What are your hobbies? The two main things I do in my free time are reading and working on my house. I love all kinds of books—fiction, non-fiction, etc. I’m always hungry to learn new things and also understand others’ inner lives. I also spend a lot of time doing projects around my house. I’m always in the middle of some kind of renovation or project to “fix” or reorganize something in my house.  It’s how I unwind and stay grounded.

Twitter handle: @VBrescoll

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…” A curriculum that is focused on helping students build interpersonal skills for cross-cultural interactions.

Students say…

Tori Brescoll is one of the leading researchers on gender inequality in the US. Her studies and their insights have shed new light on the barriers to women in the workplace and in the ivory tower, in ways that everyone – especially MBA students going on to lead various industries in their future roles — should understand. I read articles by her or citing her research in the popular media weekly. She is an incredible asset to the Yale School of Management and is a dynamic, funny and incisive pedagogue.

– Rebecca Gong, MBA/MPA ’15

Professor Brescoll always filled our classroom with great humor and positive energy.  Through her fun yet stressful team-building exercises, she taught us that great advances could not be made without each member of a team using patience, calm, humility and the (lost) art of listening in order to work together.  Her warm and engaging demeanor not only caused everyone to seek her advice outside of class; but made her the perfect mentor for women seeking a youthful and creative leader.  In class we practiced ways to find balance, calm and structure amidst chaos and stress.  When I once asked for advice on time management techniques, she gave me more useful tools than I could ever find the time to use.  It is important for women to have a young, positive and confident role model and Professor Brescoll was a pleasant surprise to all in our class.

– Laurie Cameron Craighead, MBA class of ’16

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