Problems in the pipeline: Stereotype threat and womens achievement in high-level math courses
This field experiment explored stereotype threat and its negation in high-level college math courses that typically serve as gateway courses for careers in math and science. Male and female students in the last course of an advanced university calculus sequence were given a practice test containing items similar to the GRE. All students were told that the test was "aimed at measuring your mathematical abilities" (stereotype threat), but half of the students additionally were assured that "this mathematics test has not shown any gender differences in performance or mathematics ability" (stereotype threat negation). Test performance was higher for women than men in the stereotype threat negation condition, but was equivalent in the stereotype threat condition. Assessment of course grades showed that female and male students did not differ significantly in the grades they received at the end of the semester, but practice test scores overpredicted final grades for women on the stereotype threat negation condition. In other words, women who were told that there was no test bias performed better on the practice test than would have been predicted from their final grades. These results provide a clear demonstration of elimination of stereotype threat in a real-world environment with individuals who are high achieving in the domain in question. Moreover, the findings also show that even tests described as diagnostic of ability need not impose threat if assurances of test fairness can be made.