Alicia Sheares joins MS&E as Assistant Professor
MS&E welcomes Alicia Sheares to our faculty!
Prof. Sheares received her PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, before being named a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA. She will be an affiliated faculty member of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) in MS&E.
As she officially begins her time in MS&E, we caught up with Prof. Sheares about her latest work. Read the brief Q&A below.
Tell me about the work you’ve been doing over the past year.
This past year has been a fruitful one! I’ve revised and submitted articles for publication while launching a new project. Broadly, we know that Black-founded companies encounter various challenges in the tech industry, but we know relatively little about what it takes to be successful. I’m filling this gap by building a database of venture-backed Black companies. It’s been a lot of work and taken over a lot of my time, but I’m very excited about the project.
Were there any unexpected findings, challenges, or new research directions you encountered?
Problems always arise in research, and this is especially true when you are collecting primary data. In my case, constructing an original dataset has been a very iterative process as I figured out where to go to collect the data, what variables should be included/excluded, how those variables should be coded, etc. It’s been a fun yet windy process!
What are you most looking forward to as you join the MS&E faculty this fall?
I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in the Center for Work, Technology & Organization (WTO) and STVP communities, attending seminars, and working with graduate students. Overall, I’m just excited to get started!
September 2022: When Prof. Sheares was first hired, but before she traveled to UCLA for her postdoc, we asked her about her work and why she chose MS&E. Her answers appear below.
Can you describe your recent work and the impact you hope it makes, both in your field and in society?
My work sits at the intersection of racial inequality and organizations. Specifically, my current project examines the experiences of Black tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Atlanta, including how members of this demographic perceive challenges within the field and the tactics they deploy to overcome them. Through my work, I hope to challenge contemporary notions that strategic action is a generic and one-size-fits-all process. Instead, systems like racism create distinct challenges for members of racially minoritized groups, and this requires them to adopt particular strategies to make headway. More broadly, I hope my work can help key stakeholders to realize that changes are needed to make the technology sector more equitable and that they actually implement these changes.
What does being a part of MS&E mean, or what makes it the right place for you?
I knew MS&E was the right place for me because of the unique nature of the department. There are very few institutions where a management division is housed within an engineering school. Faculty and students alike are working on cutting-edge research to make economic systems, organizations, and broader society more equitable across a variety of factors. I look forward to making my own contribution regarding work on racial inequality, organizations, and entrepreneurship. Additionally, I am particularly excited about becoming affiliated with the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization, and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. As a qualitative organizational scholar interested in entrepreneurship, these programs represent the perfect intersection of my interests and can contribute to my research agenda.
You’re already working with MS&E students as you complete your post-doc. Can you describe that work?
Working and collaborating with students is one of the best and most exciting parts of this program. Currently, my work is focused on the challenges Black tech entrepreneurs encounter. In a new project with MS&E students, we are flipping this knowledge on its head and instead looking at what factors make some Black tech entrepreneurs more successful than others. I’m very excited about this extension because I think it presents a more holistic picture of Black tech entrepreneurs and will contribute to and complicate scholarly debates about racial inequality in organizations.