Elizabeth Hirsh


Research Classification

Research Interests

Structures and Organization
Inequality, Gender and Race Discrimination, Work Organizations, Law

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Research Methodology

Quantitative methods, social statistics


Master's students
Doctoral students
Any time / year round
  • Analzying the impact of diversity policies on gender and race workplace diversity
  • Case studies of employment discrimination and human rights complaints
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).
I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.

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These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Scientific knowledge production and academic labor in unsettled times: covid-19 pandemic, preprint servers, epistemic validation, and gendered work (2022)

In this dissertation, I argue that an emerging way of science-making emerged in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, organized around preprint servers. This challenged the traditional channel of scholarly communication, organized around academic peer-reviewed journals. The outbreak science of COVID-19 needed a fast and efficient means to disseminate scientific knowledge and accelerate the accumulation of the knowledge base. With the classical peer-review system viewed as slow and ineffective, English language preprint servers surfaced as an excellent solution to handle the problem of knowledge dissemination. I argue, however, that the preprint servers do more than simply fix the ineffectiveness of academic journals at handling epistemic dissemination. Preprint servers participate in a profound reversal of epistemic evaluators and the logic of scientific capital. The early dissemination of preprint manuscripts propels scientific readers and other social actors (journalists, governmental officials, civil society) into the role of primary evaluators of scientific knowledge. The social triangle at the center of the classical scientific order of academic journals (editors, committees, and reviewers) is relegated to secondary evaluators. Preprint manuscripts are also cited independently of their publication status. Authors of preprints can accumulate citations and claim scientific authority without the support of the classical system. I begin by measuring the proportion of COVID-19 preprints published in peer-reviewed journals. To do so, I built the best performing matching algorithm to date. I also designed Upload-or-Publish API that allows researchers and other stakeholders to consult the publication status of COVID-19 preprints. The results suggest that the crisis model of knowledge production is partly operating in parallel with the classical scientific order. Then, I use logistic regression to examine the impact of scientific impact and social attention on the likelihood that preprint manuscripts get published in peer-reviewed journals. I find partial support for the hypothesis that after receiving a certain level of scholarly and social scrutiny, the chance of publishing decreases. Finally, I examine the gender gap in COVID-19 research. I find that female researchers were disadvantaged, relative to male scholars, in participating in COVID-19 research and knowledge dissemination.

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Taking stock: testing the Lehman sisters' hypothesis. Diversity and risk-taking in the finance sector (2020)

After the 2008 global financial collapse, scholars and industry leaders alike hypothesized that had the Lehman Brothers instead been the Lehman Sisters, the crash might have been avoided. The “Lehman Sisters’ Hypothesis” suggests that employing more women in the sex-segregated finance sector would not only promote gender equity, but could reduce the number of reckless risks taken, resulting in more stable economic markets. At the heart of this hypothesis is a belief that women handle risk differently than men, often stemming from essentialist understandings of gendered “differences”. However, other research suggests that rather than innate differences, decision-making is improved when groups are made up of people form diverse backgrounds with unique perspectives that lead to enhanced knowledge elaboration.In this mixed-methods dissertation, I use the Lehman Sisters’ hypothesis as a point of entry to explore the effect of sex and racial compositional diversity on risk outcomes. For the quantitative portion, I draw on 10 years of sex and race occupational composition data from 245 finance firms and their subsidiary establishments in the United States to evaluate the effect of gender and race diversity on a firm’s financial violations. In a series of negative binomial regression models, I find that higher levels of racial and gender diversity can reduce financial violations in firms, but I also find that diversity effects depend on occupation. I hypothesize that different occupations offer different levels of insulation from cultural pressures that normalize reckless risk-taking.For the qualitative component, I interviewed 62 financial professionals to glean insight into the cultural context of finance firms to better understand how policy reforms have affected women’s workplace experiences. I find that 20 years on from near industry-wide gender-equity policy reform, women in finance continue to face discrimination and harassment, yet are reluctant to use the gender equity policy that is in place. Finance firms still have gendered organizational cultures which tacitly (and sometimes explicitly) penalize women who do not conform to gendered expectations. I make a series of policy recommendations that can be used by financial firms to better catalyze diversity initiatives.

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