The I Side of Inclusion with Dr. Rupp

“My background has led me to have unique interests in the “I” side of diversity and inclusion. I began my research career focused on bias against demographic minorities, specifically older workers and employees with disabilities, which evolved into a focus on workplace justice and fairness more broadly” says Dr. Deborah Rupp when discussing how she wants to apply her research interests to practical use.

The newest member of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Concentration, she started her career in the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while also working in the School of Labor and Employment Relations. She eventually took on an appointment in the law school, giving her a diverse array of opinions and viewpoints that helped shape her outlook on the role of psychology in the workplace.

“Working alongside economists, sociologists, and legal scholars, not to mention social, clinical, and cognitive psychologists, opened my eyes to so many different perspectives and methodologies” she says of her time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This has had a strong influence on her current research as well, where she is looking at people with individual disabilities and undisclosed gender identities, and how they can be further included in the workforce. Her research focuses on job analysis techniques and how workplaces can further comply with state-level equal pay legislation, particularly in areas of diversity. But ultimately what she wants to do is to work to reduce the barriers that stop people from working, and work with new levels of fairness.

She first became interested in I/O Psychology while taking an undergraduate course at the University of West Florida with Professor Rosemary Hays-Thomas. The class led to a research position in a lab with Dr. Steve Vodanovich, with whom she is working on a book on workplace discrimination and EEO law.

Ultimately, this is what drew her to George Mason University and the Psychology I/O department here: the fact that she is now so close to Washington, DC where all of these laws are being made.

With this move to GMU, her research has come full circle, as she is continuing her work on people who might otherwise not be seen. These subgroups of working adults need an advocate, and one that can only be there if research is done on how current working conditions are affecting them now. What she really wants is justice for these groups, as evidenced by a plastic replica Hall of Justice from the old Superfriends TV series, given to her as a present, in her office.

She is impressed with the work of the students at George Mason University. Their work towards diversity and inclusion programs, as well as the partnerships that form as a result of their work are a positive gain for the students.