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Kim Elsesser

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Kim Elsesser
Research Scholar since 2003


A majority of senior executive men are reluctant to have a one-on-one meeting with a junior woman at work. They're afraid that an offhand remark will be misinterpreted as sexual harassment, that their friendliness will be misinterpreted as romantic interest, or their reference to last night's NFL game will fall flat. As a result, women are often left without male friends and mentors critical for career success.

Elsesser received her Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA, where she has taught courses on the psychology of gender and gender in the workplace. Elsesser also holds two graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an M.S. in Management and an M.S. in Operations Research. Her research focuses on gender issues in the workplace including gender differences in leadership, gender discrimination, workplace friendship between men and women, workplace romance, and sexual harassment. She has also consulted on several large-scale national studies relating to gender and work. Elsesser’s research is partly inspired by her experiences as a quantitative equity trader. Often the token female among fellow traders, Elsesser co-founded one of the most successful proprietary trading groups in Wall Street history while employed at Morgan Stanley.

Her current book-in-progress, The Sex Partition : The Greatest Barrier to Women's Success at Work, describes her research on the barriers women face establishing mentor and peer friendships with men at work. One such barrier stems from heightened awareness of sexual harassment. Over the past 20 years, efforts to increase the awareness of sexual harassment issues in the workplace have been lauded, and a "more is better" attitude has prevailed with regard to sexual harassment prevention in the workplace. However, these overzealous efforts at preventing harassment have left male employees fearing sexual harassment accusations and choosing to stick with other men when it comes time for dinners, drinks, late-night meetings, or business trips. As a result, female colleagues miss out on valuable networking opportunities, and have difficulties forging beneficial relationships with senior male managers.

Elsesser also enjoys sharing her research and her thoughts on gender issues in popular media. She has published in the New York Times and has discussed gender issues on television on Fox News America Live, and radio on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, BBC World News, KNX – Los Angeles, KIRO -Seattle and Sirius Satellite Radio. She was one of CNN’s Most Intriguing People of the Day, and has been cited in the Sunday Times (London), Bloomberg Magazine,, and Elle magazine among others. Her work has been noted in media outlets from The Economist to The Howard Stern Show. For more detailed information on her work, visit her website,


Elsesser, K. M. (expected publication spring 2014). Gender bias against female leaders: A review. In M. Connerly and J. Wu (Eds.) Handbook on Well-Being of Working Women. New York: Springer.

Elsesser, K.M. & Lever, J. (2011). Does gender bias against female leaders persist? Quantitative and qualitative data from a large-scale survey. Human Relations, 64(12), 1555-1578.

Elsesser, K. M. & Peplau, L. A. (2006). The glass partition: Obstacles to cross-sex friendships at work. Human Relations, 59, 1077 - 1100.

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