Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth

Reinvention: And other sabbatical projects

October 25th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

One of my sabbatical projects has been to figure out ‘where to now.’  This is not to imply that I have by any means exhausted my current program of research.  I just feel that I need to identify the space wherein I can make a significant contribution.  I need some focus in my work.  At present, I struggle to articulate my research in a quick 20 second overview.  This is a real drag at cocktail parties.  I start to describe my work and watch as my conversation partners eyes glaze over.  As with all things related to research, it sounds interesting until you get really close and then to most it is all theory and numbers.  So, part of my sabbatical plan is to become a better dinner part guest.  Lofty goals.  

If you picked up the Globe and Mail on Saturday you may have seen a piece by Leah Eichler wherein she included a quote from me regarding gender and leadership.  This does represent a theme in my research.  Specifically it is connected to the work that I do on modesty and career progression.  I find modesty interesting because it is such a strongly gendered behaviour so the consequences for behaving in ways that are modest differ between men and women.  In fact, modesty looks different for men relative to women.  It is an interesting thread but not one upon which to hinge my career.  However, at the core it does highlight my interest in gender issues in general.  This interest in largely founded in the fact that I am a woman.  Yep, I am putting it out there.  I am a girl and that fact influences my research choices.  In fact, I strongly believe that most research is really about the researcher.  We have so much freedom that we are almost certainly going to choose topics that resonate with us for some personal reason.

So, the other thread within my research is around psychological characteristics that support or hinder success.  Within that thread I almost always focus on characteristics that are malleable (i.e., can change through some form of learning).  In most of my work the psychological construct I have focussed on is self-efficacy.  How can we increase an individual’s confidence so that they can overcome barriers to success?  Are your eyes starting to glaze over?  This is where I typically lose people.  Perhaps you should grab yourself another martini?

This second thread is where I want to ‘hang my hat.’  Undoubtedly there is a great deal of overlap with gender as the factors that support or limit success differ by gender.  There is actually a link to diversity here as well as the obstacles one faces differ based on cultural and socioeconomic factors as well.  And I am interested in a range of related constructs – persistence, resilience, grit (I love this one.)  I am also interested in a range of outcomes – work performance, career satisfaction, ‘life’ success, happiness, and career progression.  My job this sabbatical has been to figure out two things: 1) is this interesting to others and 2) is it enough to support a sustained research program? I will let you know about the latter.  In the meantime, let me know whether it is interesting to you?


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