Stereotype threat refers to the concern with being viewed through the lens of a stereotype.1
Stereotyped threat is caused by cues in the situation that remind people of negative stereotypes.13,18
Anxiety over confirming these stereotypes can impair an individual’s ability to perform up to their full potential.2
Research has shown that stereotype threat negatively impacts: women’s math performance3 (compared to men’s), White men’s math performance4 (compared to Asian men), men’s social sensitivity5 and spatial abilities6 (compared to women’s), White athletic performance7 (compared to Black), and Black students’ verbal problem-solving abilities1 (compared to White students’).
Stereotype threat may be a significant factor in undermining women’s success and persistence in engineering.13 This has important implications for STEM fields. A simple reminder of one’s race or gender is enough to elicit stereotype threat.18
STEM fields should consider ways to create identity safe environments to help people overcome stereotype threat.
By actively raising awareness about stereotype threat, providing role models, and encouraging self-affirmation exercises, individuals’ performances are more likely to match their potential.
References & Recommended Readings
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