The Roles of Gender Stigma Consciousness, Impostor Phenomenon and Academic Self-Concept in the Academic Outcomes of Women and Men

Abstract

The question of gender differences in academic outcomes has been widely reported and debated. Recent data suggest more similarities than differences in achievement, yet also show males being more likely to make ability attributions for grades while females are more likely to make effort attributions. Thus, it may be more useful to focus on underlying factors and psychological processes that are gendered and influence academic outcomes. The primary purpose of this study was to test a hypothesized model of academic outcomes in a sample of U.S. undergraduate women and men in the Southwest (345 women, 146 men). Participants were recruited from an educational psychology subject pool and completed an online survey. A hypothesized path model was tested that linked gender stigma consciousness to impostor phenomenon, and linked impostor phenomenon to the academic outcomes of disengagement and grade point average (GPA) through academic self-concept. Alternative models were also tested that included 1) academic self-concept predicting impostor feelings, 2) impostor feelings predicting gender stigma consciousness, and 3) GPA predicting academic self-concept. Results revealed the hypothesized model fit the data reasonably well across men and women while the alternative models resulted in a poorer fit. However, there were notable differences in some of the paths. The path from impostor phenomenon to GPA was significant for women but not men, while the path from academic self-concept to disengagement was significant for men but not women. Theoretical and practical implications regarding the gendered role of impostor feelings in grades are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Awad, G. H. (2007). The role of racial identity, academic self-concept, and self-esteem in the prediction of academic outcomes for African American students. Journal of Black Psychology, 33, 188–207. doi:10.1177/0095798407299513.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bentler, P. M. (1995). EQS: Structural equations program manual. Encino: Multivariate Software.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bentler, P. M., & Wu, E. J. C. (1993). EQS/Windows user’s guide: Version 4. Los Angeles: BMDP Statistical Softward.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bernard, N. S., Dollinger, S. J., & Ramaniah, N. V. (2002). Applying the big five personality factors to the impostor phenomenon. Journal of Personality Assessment, 78, 221–233. doi:10.1207/S15327752JPA7802_07.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Brown, R. P., & Pinel, E. C. (2003). Stigma on my mind: Individual differences in the experience of stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 626–633. doi:10.1016/S0022-1031(03)00039-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Buchmann, C., & DiPrete, T. A. (2006). The growing female advantage in college completion: The role of family background and academic achievement. American Sociological Review, 71, 515–541. doi:10.1177/000312240607100401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Byrne, B. M. (2006). Structural equation modeling with EQS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Chrisman, S. M., Pieper, W. A., Clance, P. R., Holland, C. L., & Glickauf-Hughes, C. (1995). Validation of the Clance imposter phenomenon scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65, 456–467. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa6503_6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Clance, P. R. (1985). The impostor phenomenon: Overcoming the fear that haunts your success. Atlanta: Peachtree.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Clance, P. R., & Imes, S. A. (1978). The impostor phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic interventions. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 15, 241–247. doi:10.1037/h0086006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Clance, P. R., & O’Toole, M. (1987). The impostor phenomenon: An internal barrier to empowerment and achievement. Women & Therapy, 6, 51–64. doi:10.1300/J015V06N03.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cokley, K. (2000). An investigation of academic self-concept and its relationship to academic achievement in African American college students. Journal of Black Psychology, 26, 148–164. doi:10.1177/0095798400026002002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cokley, K. O. (2002). Ethnicity, gender and academic self-concept: A preliminary examination of academic disidentification and implications for psychologists. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 8, 378–388. doi:10.1037/1099-9809.8.4.379.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Cokley, K. O., & Chapman, C. (2008). The roles of ethnic identity, anti-White attitudes, and academic self-concept in African American student achievement. Social Psychology of Education, 11, 349–365. doi:10.1007/s11218-008-9060-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cokley, K., & Patel, N. (2007). A psychometric investigation of the academic self-concept of Asian American college students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 67, 88–99. doi:10.1177/0013164406288175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Cokley, K., McClain, S., Enciso, A., & Martinez, M. (2013). An examination of the impact of minority status stress and impostor feelings on the mental health of diverse ethnic minority college students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 41, 82–95. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1912.2013.00029.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cole, N. (1997). The ETS gender study: How females and males perform in educational settings. Princeton: Educational Testing Service.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Cornwell, C., Mustard, D., & Van Parys, J. (2013). Noncognitive skills and the gender disparities in test scores and teacher assessments: Evidence from primary school. Journal of Human Resources, 48, 236–264. doi:10.1353/jhr.2013.0002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Cowman, S. E., & Ferrari, J. R. (2002). ‘Am I for real?’ Predicting imposter tendencies from self- handicapping and affective components. Social Behavior and Personality, 30, 119–126. doi:10.2224/sbp.2002.30.2.119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Crombie, G. (1983). Women’s attribution patterns and their relation to achievement: An examination of within-sex differences. Sex Roles, 9, 1171–1182. doi:10.1007/BF00303100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Cromwell, B., Brown, N. W., Sanchez-Huceles, J., & Adair, F. L. (1990). The impostor phenomenon and personality characteristics of high school honor students. Journal of Social Behavior & Personality, 5, 563–573.

    Google Scholar 

  22. DiDonato, L., & Strough, J. (2013). Do college students’ gender-typed attitudes about occupations predict their real-world decisions? Sex Roles, 68, 536–549. doi:10.1007/s11199-013-0275-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J., & Linn, M. C. (2010). Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 103–127. doi:10.1037/a0018053.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Erkut, S. (1983). Exploring sex differences in expectancy, attribution, and academic achievement. Sex Roles, 9, 217–231. doi:10.1007/BF00289625.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Gnaulati, E. (2014). Why girls tend to get better grades than boys do. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/why-girls-get-better-grades-than-boys-do/380318/s.

  26. Goldin, C., Katz, L., & Kuziemko, I. (2006). The homecoming of American college women: The reversal of the college gender gap. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20, 133–156. doi:10.3386/w12139.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hair, J. F., Jr., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1995). Multivariate data analysis with readings (4th ed.). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Hedges, L. V., & Nowell, A. (1995). Sex differences in mental test scores, variability, and numbers of high-scoring individuals. Science, 269, 41–45. doi:10.1126/science.7604277.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Henning, K., Ey, S., & Shaw, D. (1998). Perfectionism, the imposter phenomenon and psychological adjustment in medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students. Medical Education, 32, 456–464. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.1998.00234.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Hoelter, J. W. (1983). The analysis of covariance structures: Goodness of fit indices. Sociological Methods and Research, 11, 325–344. doi:10.1177/0049124183011003003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Holmes, S. W., Kertay, L., Adamson, L. B., Holland, C. L., & Clance, P. (1993). Measuring the imposter phenomenon: A comparison of Clance’s IP scale and Harvey’s I-P scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 60, 48–59. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa6001_3.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Hyde, J., & Kling, K. C. (2001). Women, motivation, and achievement. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 364–378. doi:10.1111/1471-6402.00035.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (1988). Gender differences in verbal ability: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 53–69. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.104.1.53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. J. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139–155. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.139.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Isiksal, M. (2010). A comparative study on undergraduate students’ academic motivation and academic self-concept. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 13, 572–585. doi:10.1017/S1138741600002250.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Kiefer, A. K., & Sekaquaptewa, D. (2007). Implicit stereotypes, gender identification, and math-related outcomes: A prospective study of female college students. Psychological Science, 18, 13–18. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01841.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. King, J. E., & Cooley, E. L. (1995). Achievement orientation and the impostor phenomenon among college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 20, 304–312. doi:10.1006/ceps.1995.1019.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Kling, K. C., Noftle, E. E., & Robins, R. W. (2013). Why do standardized tests underpredict women’s academic performance? The role of conscientiousness. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 600–606. doi:10.1177/1948550612469038.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Lamdin, D. J. (1996). Evidence of student attendance as an independent variable in education production functions. Journal of Educational Research, 89, 155–162. doi:10.1080/00220671.1996.994132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Gore, P. R. (1997). Discriminant and predictive validity of academic self-concept, academic self-efficacy, and mathematics-specific self-efficacy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 44, 307–315. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.44.3.307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Lindberg, S. M., Hyde, J., Petersen, J. L., & Linn, M. C. (2010). New trends in gender and mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 1123–1135. doi:10.1037/a0021276.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Major, B. (2012). Self, social identity, and stigma: Through Kay Deaux’s lens. In S. Wiley, G. Philogène, T. A. Revenson, S. Wiley, G. Philogène, & T. A. Revenson (Eds.), Social categories in everyday experience (pp. 11–30). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13488-001.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Major, B., Spencer, S., Schmader, T., Wolfe, C., & Crocker, J. (1998). Coping with negative stereotypes about intellectual performance: The role of psychological disengagement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 34–50. doi:10.1177/0146167298241003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Marsh, H. W., & Martin, A. J. (2011). Academic self-concept and academic achievement: Relations and causal ordering. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 59–77. doi:10.1348/000709910X503501.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. McGregor, L., Gee, D. E., & Posey, K. E. (2008). I feel like a fraud and it depresses me: The relation between the imposter phenomenon and depression. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 36, 43–48. doi:10.2224/sbp.2008.36.1.43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Noftle, E. E., & Robins, R. W. (2007). Personality predictors of academic outcomes: Big five correlates of GPA and SAT scores. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 116–130. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.93.1.116.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Nowell, A., & Hedges, L. V. (1998). Trends in gender differences in academic achievement from 1960 to 1994: An analysis of differences in mean, variance, and extreme scores. Sex Roles, 39, 21–43. doi:10.1023/A:1018873615316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Osborne, J. W. (1997). Race and academic disidentification. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 728–735. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.89.4.728.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Picho, K., & Brown, S. W. (2011). Can stereotype threat be measured? A validation of the Social Identities and Attitudes Scale (SIAS). Journal of Advanced Academics, 22, 374–411. doi:10.1177/1932202X1102200302.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Pinel, E. C. (1999). Stigma consciousness: The psychological legacy of social stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 114–128. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.76.1.114.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Pinel, E. C. (2004). You’re just saying that because I’m a woman: Stigma consciousness and attributions to discrimination. Self and Identity, 3, 39–51. doi:10.1080/13576500342000031.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 717–731. doi:10.3758/BF03206553.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891. doi:10.3758/BRM.40.3.879.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. Reynolds, W. M. (1988). Measurement of academic self-concept in college students. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 223–240. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa5202_4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Reynolds, W. M., Ramírez, M. P., Magriña, A., & Allen, J. E. (1980). Initial development and validation of the academic self-concept scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 40, 1013–1016. doi:10.1177/001316448004000428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Ripple, C. H., & Luthar, S. S. (2000). Academic risk among inner-city adolescents: The role of personal attributes. Journal of School Psychology, 38, 277–298. doi:10.1016/S0022-4405(00)00032-7.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Robbins, S. B., Lauver, K., Le, H., Davis, D., Langley, R., & Carlstrom, A. (2004). Do psychosocial and study skill factors predict college outcomes? A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 261–288. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.2.261.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. Schmalz, D. L., & Kerstetter, D. L. (2006). Girlie girls and manly men: Chidren’s stigma consciousness of gender in sports and physical activities. Journal of Leisure Research, 38, 536–557.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Seyfried, S. F. (1998). Academic achievement of African American preadolescents: The influence of teacher perceptions. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26, 381–402. doi:10.1023/A:1022107120472.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  61. Shavelson, R. J., & Bolus, R. (1982). Self concept: The interplay of theory and methods. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 3–17. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.74.1.3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and non-experimental studies: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 7, 422–445. doi:10.1037/1082-989X.7.4.422.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  63. Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52, 613–629. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.52.6.613.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 797–811. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.69.5.797.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. Steiger, J. H., & Lind, J. C. (1980, May). Statistically based tests for the number of common factors. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Psychometric Society, Iowa City, IA.

  66. Sutton, A., & Soderstrom, I. (1999). Predicting elementary and secondary school achievement with school-related and demographic factors. Journal of Educational Research, 92, 330–338. doi:10.1080/00220679909597616.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Vergauwe, J., Wille, B., Feys, M., De Fruyt, F., & Anseel, F. (2014). Fear of being exposed: The trait-relatedness of the impostor phenomenon and its relevance in the work context. Journal of Business and Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10869-014-9382-5.

  69. Wang, K., Stroebe, K., & Dovidio, J. F. (2012). Stigma consciousness and prejudice ambiguity: Can it be adaptive to perceive the world as biased? Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 241–245. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.03.021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Woodcock, A., Hernandez, P. R., Estrada, M., & Schultz, P. W. (2012). The consequences of chronic stereotype threat: Domain disidentification and abandonment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 635–646. doi:10.1037/a0029120.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. Yuan, K.-H., & Bentler, P. M. (2004). On chi-square difference and z-tests in mean and covariance structure analysis when the base model is misspecified. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 64, 737–757. doi:10.1177/0013164404264853.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Zeigler-Hill, V. (2007). Contingent self-esteem and race: Implications for the Black self-esteem advantage. Journal of Black Psychology, 33, 51–74. doi:10.1177/0095798406295096.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin Cokley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cokley, K., Awad, G., Smith, L. et al. The Roles of Gender Stigma Consciousness, Impostor Phenomenon and Academic Self-Concept in the Academic Outcomes of Women and Men. Sex Roles 73, 414–426 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0516-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gender stigma consciousness
  • Impostor phenomenon
  • Academic self-concept
  • Grade point average