How to Talk about Gender Inequity in the Workplace: Using WAGES as an Experiential Learning Tool to Reduce Reactance and Promote Self-Efficacy
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Interventions aimed at raising awareness of gender inequity in the workplace provide information about sexism, which can elicit reactance or fail to promote self-efficacy. We examined the effectiveness of experiential learning using the Workshop Activity for Gender Equity Simulation – Academic version (WAGES-Academic) to deliver gender inequity information. To assess whether the way gender inequity information is presented matters, we compared WAGES-Academic to an Information Only condition (knowledge without experiential learning) and a Group Activity control condition. We predicted that only the information presented in an experiential learning format (i.e., WAGES-Academic) would be retained because this information does not provoke reactance and instills self-efficacy. Participants (n = 241; U.S. college students from a large mid-Atlantic state university) filled out a gender equity knowledge test at baseline, after the intervention, and then 7–11 days later (to assess knowledge retention). In addition, we measured feelings of reactance and self-efficacy after the intervention. Results revealed that participants in the WAGES condition retained more knowledge than the other conditions. Furthermore, the effect of WAGES vs. Information Only on knowledge was mediated by WAGES producing less reactance and greater feelings of self-efficacy. Results suggest that experiential learning is a powerful intervention to deliver knowledge about gender equity in a non-threatening, lasting way.
KeywordsExperiential learning Gender equity Intervention Reactance Self-efficacy Sexism
Based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under award #0820212 to Stephanie A. Shields, Ph.D. In-kind support was provided by The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, The Pennsylvania State University. We thank Elizabeth Demeusy, April Foster, and Brittney Schlechter for their invaluable assistance as experimenters.
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