how stereotype threat may cause poor performance in women Essay

how stereotype threat may cause poor performance in women Essay

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Introduction
Throughout the years, males have dominated the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with very few females finding their way in the mix (Steinberg, Okun, & Aiken, 2012). Those females enrolling in the STEM majors soon find themselves questioning why they have, and many quickly change their majors to more female-accepting professions (Steele, James, & Barnett, 2002). The view that women lack the intellect to succeeded in STEM disciplines has been a prevailing one for much of history (Cadinu, Maass, Rosabianca, & Kiesner, 2005). Many researchers have questioned whether it is social stigma impeding female success or indeed basic biological differences that make males are more successful in these fields than women (Smith, Sansone, & White, 2007).
One theory explaining why low number of females achieve STEM degrees attributes its cause to stereotype threat (Schmader & Johns, 2003). Stereotype threat is defined as a “socially-premised psychological threat that arises when one is in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one’s group applies.” (Steele, 1997, p 614). According to C.M. Steele and Aronson (1995), there are two types of stereotype threat a person can encounter. The first kind of stereotype threat a person can come across is when that person acknowledges that a negative stereotype exists about their social group and their capabilities. The second type of stereotype threat is when a person is more hesitant to participate in certain activities out of a fear of confirming the stereotype of their social group. If encountered with a stereotype threat, people facing discrimination may self-handicap, self-suppress, dis-identificate, or disengage w...


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...ogy, 69(5), 797-811. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.69.5.797

Steele, J., James, J. B., & Barnett, R. (2002). Learning in a man's world: Examining the
perceptions of undergraduate women in male-dominated academic areas. Psychology of
Women Quarterly, 26(1), 46-50. doi:10.1111/1471-6402.00042

Steinberg, J. R., Okun, M. A., & Aiken, L. S. (2012). Calculus GPA and math identification as
moderators of stereotype threat in highly persistent women. Basic and Applied Social
Psychology, 34(6), 534-543. doi:10.1080/01973533.2012.727319
Rydell, R. J., Rydell, M. T., & Boucher, K. L. (2010). The effect of negative performance
stereotypes on learning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(6), 883-896.
doi:10.1037/a0021139

Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2003). Stereotype Lift. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 39(5), 456-467. doi:10.1016/S0022-1031(03)00019-2

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