Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 464–477 | Cite as

Gender bias triggers diverging science interests between women and men: The role of activity interest appraisals

  • Dustin B. Thoman
  • Carol Sansone
Original Paper


Women leave science fields at greater rates than men, and loss of interest is a key motivator for leaving. Although research widely demonstrates effects of gender bias on other motivational processes, whether gender bias directly affects feelings of interest toward science activities is unknown. We used a false feedback paradigm to manipulate whether women (Study 1) and men (Study 2) participants perceived the reason for feedback as due to pro-male bias. Because activity interest also depends on how students approach and perform the activity, effects of biased feedback on interest appraisals were isolated by introducing gender bias only after the science activity was completed. When the feedback was perceived as due to pro-male bias, women (Study 1) reported lower interest and men (Study 2) reported greater interest in the science activity, and interest, in turn, positively predicted subsequent requests for career information in both studies. Implications for understanding diverging science interests between women and men are discussed.


Interest Motivation Discrimination Stereotypes Gender bias Women in science 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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