Sex Roles

, Volume 67, Issue 11–12, pp 617–629 | Cite as

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): An Investigation of Their Implicit Gender Stereotypes and Stereotypes’ Connectedness to Math Performance

Original Article


In spite of many barriers facing women’s enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), some women are successful in these counter-stereotypic disciplines. The present research extended work primarily conducted in the United States by investigating implicit gender-STEM stereotypes—and their relation to performance—among female and male engineering and humanities students in Southern France. In study 1 (N = 55), we tested whether implicit gender-math stereotypes—as measured by the Implicit Association Test (IAT; Greenwald et al. 1998)—would be weaker among female engineering students as compared to female humanities, male engineering and male humanities students. In study 2 (N = 201), we tested whether this same results pattern would be observed with implicit gender-reasoning stereotypes (using a newly created IAT) and, in addition, whether implicit gender-reasoning stereotypes would be more strongly (and negatively) related to math grades for female humanities students as compared to the three other groups. Results showed that female engineering students held weaker implicit gender-math and gender-reasoning stereotypes than female humanities, male engineering and male humanities students. Moreover, implicit stereotyping was more negatively related to math grades for female humanities students than for the three other groups. Together, findings demonstrate that female engineering students hold weaker implicit gender-STEM stereotypes than other groups of students and, in addition, that these stereotypes are not necessarily negatively associated with math performance for all women. Discussion emphasizes how the present research helps refine previous findings and their importance for women’s experience in STEM.


Implicit gender stereotypes Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Math performance 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale, Institut des Sciences SocialesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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