Innovation and progress in beta tech environments can grow through more diversity and inclusiveness.

October 4, 2023

Research shows: diversity thrives in an environment where differences thrive

In the rapidly changing field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), workforce diversity is a crucial factor for progress and innovation. Yet many STEM organizations still have a homogeneous composition of employees based on gender, nationality and work experience. While diversity in a team is known to stimulate creativity and innovation, differences can also cause conflict and exclusion. This is where inclusiveness comes in.

A vision of a workplace where everyone feels welcome and unique perspectives are valued is at the heart of a study by Janna Heynen- Behnke. In her PhD research, she aims to illuminate how STEM organizations and their leaders, as well as employees themselves, can create work environments that embrace diversity and inclusiveness.

Conceptual framework and field studies

The dissertation begins with a conceptual framework, followed by four field studies. Among other things, these demonstrate how diversity affects work dynamics and determines employees' sense of inclusion and well-being. It also elaborates on how inclusiveness can help reduce work-related stress and discrimination.

Leadership is crucial

Leadership appears to play a crucial role within diverse teams. Inclusive leaders have the power to inspire better teamwork, improved performance and higher engagement. In addition, the dissertation proposes special training for newcomers to STEM fields, aimed at promoting interaction and support. Results show that newcomers who attended this training felt more supported and connected, which significantly improved their experience.

Finally, the dissertation offers a bold experiment in gender equity by studying the hiring policies of a STEM university. This research offers valuable insights for the ongoing debate about diversity-driven change in the workplace.


All in all, this dissertation takes a deep look at diversity and inclusion in STEM environments. It emphasizes that diversity is not just about different people in the same space, but about creating an environment in which these differences thrive, leading to enriching work experiences, improved well-being and a more inclusive future.

Janna defended her thesis on October 4th

Thesis title: "Make Differences Count. Benefiting from Workforce Diversity through Inclusion in STEM Organizations". Supervisors: Evangelia Demerouti, Sonja Rispens, Human Performance Management Group

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