Interventions designed to combat the negative effects of stereotype threat have primarily taken an individual-based approach. The current study sought to expand upon these strategies by taking a group-based approach to reduce stereotype threat effects. Specifically, we investigated whether the success and numerical representation of women in STEM positively impacts women’s math performance and affective reactions. We hypothesized that 1) women under threat (control) would perform worse than men; 2) there would be a larger performance difference for women than men when exposed to the success and balanced representation of women in STEM compared to the control condition; 3) there would be a larger performance difference for women than men between the balanced condition and the unbalanced condition where women are portrayed as successful, but not equally represented in STEM. For this study, male (n = 56) and female (n = 66) U.S. undergraduates from a large southern California state university read information about women’s success and representation in STEM (or no information), completed a math exam under stereotype threat conditions, and then expressed their threat-based concerns. Results revealed that women performed worse than men in the control condition. Women in the balanced condition performed better than women in the control and unbalanced conditions. Men’s performance was unaffected by the balance or imbalance of women in STEM. Women’s affective reactions largely mirrored the performance results. This study provides compelling evidence for using a group-based approach highlighting women’s advances in STEM to alleviate stereotype threat.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 19, 2012
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