Can salience of gender identity impair math performance among 7-8 years old girls? The moderating role of task difficulty
This experiment examined whether stereotype threat effects would emerge in a real classroom setting. French children in the 3rd grade (7-8 years of age) were asked to color drawings of either a boy or a girl with a ball (to highlight self-gender), or a landscape (control), and then were asked to complete a set of difficult and easy math problems. Results showed that girls performed less well on the difficult items when their gender had been highlighted compared to the control condition. Boys' performance on difficult items was unaffected by the coloring task. Performance on the easier items did not differ by condition, although girls showed a slight tendency to perform better when their gender was highlighted. These results show that stereotype threat effects can occur in young children in a realistic setting, but that these effects emerged only on more challenging items.