While the gender gap in mathematics and science has narrowed, men pursue these fields at a higher rate than women. In this study, 165 men and women at a university in the northeastern United States completed implicit and explicit measures of science stereotypes (association between male and science, relative to female and humanities), and gender identity (association between the concept “self” and one’s own gender, relative to the concept “other” and the other gender), and reported plans to pursue science-oriented and humanities-oriented academic programs and careers. Although men were more likely than women to plan to pursue science, this gap in students’ intentions was completely accounted for by implicit stereotypes. Moreover, implicit gender identity moderated the relationship between women’s stereotypes and their academic plans, such that implicit stereotypes only predicted plans for women who strongly implicitly identified as female. These findings illustrate how an understanding of implicit cognitions can illuminate between-group disparities as well as within-group variability in science pursuit.
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