Counter-stereotypic beliefs in math do not protect school girls from stereotype threat

This study focused on French public middle-school students (N = 199) regarding their beliefs about men and womens math abilities. Students were asked to study a complex figure and later to reproduce the figure from memory. Participants were either told the test would measure geometric ability (intended to create stereotype threat in girls) or drawing ability (control). Students then completed questionnaires assessing their beliefs in geometry-related gender stereotypes, their beliefs in their own abilities, and their judgments regarding the importance of both geometry and drawing abilities. Girls performed worse than when the task was framed as a geometry test rather than a drawing exercise. When labeled a drawing exercise, girls outperformed boys. Surprisingly, in evaluating their genders geometric ability, both girls and boys rated their respective genders ability to be superior. These results show that stereotype threat may still occur even when people hold counter-stereotypic beliefs.

Huguet, P., & Regner, I. (2009). Counter-stereotypic beliefs in math do not protect school girls from stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1024-1027.

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