Learning in a man's world: Examining the perceptions of undergraduate women in male-dominated academic areas
This correlational study examined views of undergraduate women in male-dominated academic fields. A representative sample of first-year and fourth-year men and women were invited to complete a survey about students' experiences and aspirations. Included were items focusing on perceived sex discrimination and stereotype threat, identification with their academic major, and the desire to change their major. Results showed that women in male-dominated majors were more likely to report gender discrimination, expected more future discrimination, and perceived more stereotype threat than did women in majors not dominated by men. Women in male-dominated majors were no less identified with the major than were men. Women in male-dominated majors, however, were more likely to indicate that they were considering changing their major. These data show that women do report greater stereotype threat to the degree that their major involves a domain that is male-dominated. In addition, women in these areas showed a greater likelihood of leaving these disciplines, consistent with the idea that stereotype threat can produce disengagement, reduced feelings of belonging, and disidentification.