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Stereotypes and the Achievement Gap

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Kate Stockton

on 19 June 2014

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Transcript of Stereotypes and the Achievement Gap

Stereotypes and the Achievement Gap.
"How to Avoid Gender Stereotypes," Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jordan
a 30-minute presentation by Kate Stockton
Irrespective of experience and performance, men are perceived to be more competent than women.
Default perception: leader - men, diversity/nurturing - women.
What we underestimate, we underutilize.
We are programmed to judge performance and competence based on physically apparent differences.
There are more differences among women and more differences among men than differences between men and women.
Stereotypes and Achievement
Stereotypes affect a person's own understanding of his/her competence (self-assessment), aspirations, performance, and achievement level.
Two ways that stereotypes influence self-assessment (person's own understanding of his/her competence):
Negative stereotypes lead to decreased task performance.
Negative stereotypes lead individuals to judge their performance by a harsher standard.
Persons exposed to a stereotype will perform less well on a test that is diagnostic of some ability which leads to that person to see her/him self as having less of that ability.
If we judge our task performance using a harsher performance standard, we will be less likely to see ourselves as having task ability than if we had instead used a more lenient standard (c
entral idea is that when you know that others do not expect "people like you" to be good at a given type of task, you judge your own performance by a harsher standard).
How do stereotypes impact performance?
"Stereotype threat"

refers to being at risk of confirming, as a self characteristics, a negative stereotype about ones group.
"Stereotype threat" effects are magnified in higher performers:
Working memory capacity
Required for higher-level functioning.
Negative stereotypes interfere with the brain, depleting it of working memory capacity.
Regions of the brain that perform complex functions (eg. mathematics/physics,executive-level planning and decisions) are turned off and regions of the brain that process emotions and social knowledge are activated.
High functioning person
Emotional brain crowds out the critical thinking brain.
High performers have a well developed "scratch pad memory" (eg.: compute math problems in the head) and this is the area most susceptible to stereotype threat, therefore most susceptible to the crowding out effect of negative stereotypic knowledge.
Emotional brain
Emotional regions of the brain are activated.
Working memory is depleted.
Stereotype threat effect occurs out of
Research has shown that stereotype threat can harm the performance of any individual for whom the situation invokes a stereotype-based expectation of poor performance.
Women in science, executive-level positions, typically-male occupations/fields.
Persons from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Men compared with women on social sensitivity.
Whites compared with blacks on tasks assumed to reflect natural sports ability.
Working mothers/fathers and workers with caregiver responsibilities.
Workers suffering from poor health.
Individuals with low(er) educational attainment.
Age groups, martial status, LGBT, religious belief, ethnicity, pregnant workers.
Persons with disabilities and/or with physical and emotional needs/limitations.
Overweight/obese individuals.
Everyone belongs to at least one group that is characterized by some sort of stereotype.
Underachieved on classroom exams and standardized tests.
Showed marked decreased performance on tasks in non-academic domains. (housekeeping, sports, car maintenance, child rearing, etc.)
Exhibited increased use of self-defeating strategies, such as practicing less for a task and discounting tasks.
Showed more signs of disengagement and disidentification.
Were observed to have altered professional identities and aspirations.
What can be done? How can we reduce stereotype threat?
Encourage individuals to think of themselves as complex and multi-faceted.
Highlight social identities that are not linked to underperformance in a domain.
Encourage self affirmation (this can be done by encouraging people to think about their characteristics, skills, values, or roles that they value or view as important).
Emphasize high standards with assurances about the capability for meeting them (constructive feedback reduces perceived evaluator bias, increases motivation, and preserves domain-identification.)
Thank You!
Correll, Shelly, perf. How Gender Stereotypes Influence Emerging Career Aspirations. Stanford University, 2010. Web. 4 Mar 2014. <http://youtu.be/jwviTwO8M8Q>.
Stroessner, S. (n.d.). Stereotype threat: An overview. Retrieved from http://www.reducingstereotypethreat.org/
Vedantam, Shankar, writ. "How Stereotypes Can Drive Women To Quit Science." Dir. Melissa Block. All Things Considered. NPR: 07 Jul 2012. Radio.
Dr. Shelly J. Correll, Stanford Univ.
Stigmatized groups:
Provide role models.
Emphasize the importance of effort and motivation in performance while de-emphasizing inherent talent or genius.
Emphasize an incremental view of intelligence (intelligence is not fixed).
Control the message.
Remember that biases are more extreme in uncertain settings.
Don't be lazy; avoid stereotypes as shortcuts.
Mechanism of Stereotype Threat
increased anxiety about confirming a negative stereotype about one’s group.
stereotype threat can produce anxiety in stereotyped individuals prior to performance and frustration following the completion of the task.
Negative cognitions and dejection
heighten stereotype–related thinking, leading to distraction and loss of motivation which, in turn, can negatively affect performance.
Lowered performance expectations
If individuals expect to do poorly on a task, they might not be able to perform as well as when confidence is high.
Physiological arousal
higher skin conductance and blood pressure and lowered skin temperature.
arousal improves performance on simple tasks but decreases performance on difficult tasks
Reduced creativity, flexibility, and speed
prevention focus, a regulatory state in which individuals become overly vigilant to prevent failure.
People in a state of vigilance tend to exhibit poorer performance on tasks that rely on creativity, openness, flexibility, and speed.
Reduced effort
low expectations of performance or perhaps due to self-handicap.
Reduced self-control
stereotype threat can diminish people's ability to direct their attention and behavior in purposive ways.
Reduced working memory capacity
undermines the ability to meet the information-processing requirements of complex intellectual tasks.
Excess effort or attention
increased effort does not necessarily improve performance.
highly proceduralized or well-practiced tasks can be harmed.
to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same.
an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.
(verb & noun)
generalization & oversimplification
Would anyone like to share a personal story on how a particular stereotype affected a career or personal situation?

National Weather Service, Employment by Gender (2012)
Classic Stereotype Thereat Study:
Task: Tetris-like task (spacial ability).
Group: Women
50% women were told they have less spatial ability than men.
50% women were told that women are better at taking the perspective of others.
FMRI during test.
Women exposed to the negative stereotype made 40% more errors than the other group. Parts of the brain were underutilized.
90% of women stated that the negative stereotype did not have an affect on their performance.

We must be careful not to stereotype or expect talent to look a certain way.
Mindsets matter.
of Bachelor Degree earners are women (2012)

Power of
(the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently).
Perceptions and stereotypes dictate what we tend to look for and what we expect to find.
Stereotypic Beliefs
Assessment of Competence
Aspirations and
Another study:
Task: Mathematics
Group: Asian women (gender & mathematics, race & mathematics).
Women & Math (negative stereotype).
Race/Asians & Math (positive stereotype).
Control group: no stereotype.
Predictable outcome.

Dr. Shelly Correll, Stanford Univ.
Full transcript