2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Nitya Chawla, Texas A&M University Mays School of Business

Nitya Chawla
Texas A&M University Mays School of Business

“Professor Chawla did an exemplary job at discussing topics surrounding organizational culture and behavior. Professor Chawla balanced a new born child and our class extremely well. She was very responsive to students’ questions and even offered flexibility to busy students. I had a wonderful time attending this class and often think about its concepts within my organizations and work environment.” – John David McClain

Nitya Chawla, 31, is Assistant Professor of Management at Mays School of Business at Texas A&M University.

Her work primarily focuses on understanding how organizations and leaders can build inclusive environments that value employees’ lives, exploring the experiences of employees before they formally join the workforce.

Her research has been published in Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Organization Science, Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management, and Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives in Science and Practice. Her dissertation work on women’s experiences of hostile and benevolent sexism while searching for a job was awarded the 2019 Society for Human Resource Management Foundation’s Dissertation Grant, the 2020 Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Hebl Grant for Reducing Gender Inequities in the Workplace Award, and the 2021 SIOP S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award.


At current institution since what year? 2020

  • Education:
    Ph.D., The University of Arizona, Management
    B.Sc., National University of Singapore, Psychology

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Managing People in Organizations


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was an undergraduate in a class on “Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology.” The idea that workplaces which we previously heralded as being cold and devoid of all things human (e.g., emotions, interpersonal challenges) were anything but, fascinated me. I didn’t know this field existed and the fact that we could research ways to build happier, healthier, and more inclusive workplaces as well as influence the next generation of organizational leaders excited me and has continued to do so since then.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? A lot of my current research examines women’s experiences in the workplace, not only in terms of the sex-based harassment that continues to pervade their careers but also the unique challenges they face as they begin their motherhood journey. Right now, my coauthors (Allison Gabriel, Melanie Prengler, Kristie Rogers, Benjamin Rogers, Alyssa Tedder-King, and Christopher Rosen) and I are seeking to understand the ways in which organizational members can serve as allies to women as they transition back to work postpartum. Through several interviews with working mothers, we gained insight into the behaviors that they believe were most valuable to them as they navigated their postpartum reentry. In studying why and how these forms of allyship are beneficial, our results highlight the implications these reentry experiences have for working mothers’ careers, families, and their own well-being.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… A doctor—the real kind! All through high school I was on path to enter medical school and was actually admitted to the University of Manchester. But, after taking a psychology class during my International Baccalaureate, I knew this was something I had to explore. And, I haven’t looked back since.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I think I stand out to students because I am completely authentic (some may believe to a fault!) in the classroom. This translates into demonstrating how much I care for my students (both within and outside the classroom) and my willingness to tackle difficult, but important, topics. Students have often told me that it is rare for their professors to talk about the ‘icky’ parts of work, employees’ lives, and societies writ large, which they appreciate and is something I take great pride in.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilarating

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: That you don’t need to be anyone but yourself. If you are caring, kind, and thoughtful, students will love you for who you are.

Professor I most admire and why: Allison Gabriel at The University of Arizona. She was my doctoral advisor and has been a role model for me ever since (and, I know for several other female academics!). She cares about each and every one of her students and will go to such great lengths to develop them, while also ensuring they are leading full lives outside of academia. I have always admired her steadfastness, willingness to stand up for her students, and passion to make the academic field—as well as workplaces more broadly—better for everyone. In the moments as a doctoral student, tenure-track academic, or working mother that I have felt lesser than, Allie has never wavered in her support and has always lifted me back up.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Having conversations that help students dig a little deeper into the ways in which they want to transform the future of organizations for the better and discover the type of leader they hope to be. There is also nothing more fun than watching students learn from one another’s diverse perspectives and seeing something in a different light than they have before.

What is most challenging? Encouraging students to recognize that the world isn’t all black or white—there are several shades in between and that we should embrace, rather than try to stifle, the messiness and nuances that exist.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Open-minded

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Entitled

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Stern, but fair


What are your hobbies? Between the tenure-track life, a dual-career household, and spending quality time with the boys, we really don’t get a lot of time to ourselves! But, when we do, I love bingeing TV shows (some which I’m embarrassed to admit I watch), working out on my Peloton, rooting for the Golden State Warriors, and trying out new restaurants with my husband.

How will you spend your summer? I’m looking forward to being able to have time focusing on research again, some of which I’m hoping to do from London—a city I love and where my sister lives.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Anywhere in Europe! There is so much there that I still want to explore.

Favorite book(s): This is a long list. A few are: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, What Happened by Hillary Clinton, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, and On Critical Race Theory by Victor Ray.

I’m also a Harry Potter nerd through and through.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Madam Secretary. It showcases a brilliant, thoughtful, kind female leader who navigates the political world with grace and optimism while also having a fulfilling family life. Every episode is such a feel-good 45 minutes and a reminder that there are always opportunities to make the world a better place.

At the same time, the teenager in me is still obsessed with One Tree Hill.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I tend to enjoy a lot of different styles of music, ranging from Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and Beyoncé to Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and Adele to Bon Iver, Jack’s Manequinn, Ray LaMontagne, and even John Mayer. I really am so all over the place with my music tastes! I also listen to a lot more Hindi music than people often realize!


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…diversity—of backgrounds, thought, belief structures, and family structures. We can’t build businesses and organizations that truly work for all without having schools that similarly mirror and leverage these diverse perspectives.
In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…being compassionate and recognizing that there is no “one size fits all.”

I’m grateful for… my incredible support system. I truly believe in, and live by, the African proverb, “it takes a village.” I am so lucky to have a family that has always found ways to support me in my goals; a partner who cheers for me louder than anyone else and without whom I would not be able to juggle different roles; colleagues who have become family and best friends; and, the women in my life who will always rally and be there to remind me that our lives and careers are so much more fun when we get to share it all with one another.


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