Effects of salient multiple identities on women's performance under mathematics stereotype threat

This experiment examined the role of multiple identities in attenuating stereotype threat. Male and female undergraduates who varied in their level of identification with math were asked to answer some questions that supposedly were to be used in a new version of the GRE math test. To induce stereotype threat, researchers told the students that the test was being used "because of the well-known stereotype that men usually outperform women on math tests" (stereotype threat for women). Before taking the math test, some participants were asked to create self-concept maps as an exercise involving graphical representation. Whereas some participants did not create a self-concept map, others were induced to form simple maps (reflecting the person's "most basic or fundamentally important characteristic") or complex maps (reflecting "a complete description" of the person). In contrast with individuals who did not make self-concept maps or who made simple maps, women who made complex self-concept maps were unaffected by the stereotype threat manipulation. Women who made no maps or simple maps performed more poorly under stereotype threat if they were highly identified with math, whereas performance of women not highly identified with math did not differ across the conditions. In addition, women who were highly identified with math performed as well as men if they had created complex self-maps. Performance deficits under stereotype threat were alleviated by prompting women to think of themselves in a multifaceted manner.

Gresky, D. M., Ten Eyck, L. L., Lord, C. G., & McIntyre, R. B. (2005). Effects of salient multiple identities on women's performance under mathematics stereotype threat. Sex Roles, 53, 703-716.

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