The Role of Stereotype Threats in Undermining Girls’ and Women’s Performance and Interest in STEM Fields

Abstract

In the present manuscript we draw on the Multi-Threat Framework to explore gender-related math attitudes and how they put girls and women at risk for stereotype threats. Gunderson et al. (2011) detail how negative stereotypes about women’s math abilities are transmitted to girls by their parents and teachers, shaping girls’ math attitudes and ultimately undermining performance and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The social psychological phenomenon of stereotype threat complements this approach and demonstrates the additional ways in which gender-related math attitudes undermine girls’ and women’s interest and performance in STEM domains. Considering the phenomenon of stereotype threat also identifies how stereotypes and other gender-related math attitudes can undermine women’s and girls’ interest and performance in STEM domains even when women and girls have positive math attitudes.

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Acknowledgement

This research was supported by a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant (grant number: RC1GM09071) and a National Science Foundation grant (grant number: BCS0956321) awarded to Jenessa R. Shapiro. The authors would like to thank Sapna Cheryan for her comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Shapiro, J.R., Williams, A.M. The Role of Stereotype Threats in Undermining Girls’ and Women’s Performance and Interest in STEM Fields. Sex Roles 66, 175–183 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0051-0

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Keywords

  • Multi-Threat Framework
  • Stereotype threat
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Math attitudes
  • STEM