The present study compared the effectiveness of different mentoring programs at reducing feelings of stereotype threat experienced by women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Stereotype threat refers to the extra pressure a person feels to disprove a negative stereotype that applies to him or her. Because stereotype threat has been found to undermine performance and interest in stereotyped domains, it may be a key factor contributing to female underrepresentation in STEM fields. Mentors and proteges were placed in either a stereotype threat reduction condition in which mentors and proteges were encouraged to participate in discussions designed to reduce stereotype threat, an academic condition in which mentors and proteges were encouraged to discuss academic goals and challenges, or a non-academic condition in which mentors and proteges were encouraged to discuss the challenges of balancing non-school commitments. It was hypothesized that mentoring that focused specifically on stereotype threat reduction would be the most effective in reducing stereotype threat and increasing intentions to remain in STEM fields. In addition, it was hypothesized that stereotype threat reduction mentoring would be the most effective at increasing beliefs in an incremental theory of intelligence (i.e., the belief that intelligence can be developed through hard work) and decreasing beliefs in an entity theory of intelligence (i.e., the belief that intelligence is innate and is unalterable). Mentors were 36 male and 74 female upper-level STEM college students and proteges were 137 female lower-level STEM college students. Participants met online for 30 minutes, once per week, for 3 weeks. Results indicated that both mentors and proteges in the stereotype threat reduction mentoring condition reported feeling less stereotype threat in their STEM classes than mentors and proteges in the other mentoring conditions. Additionally, the frequency in which self-theories were discussed in the mentoring sessions partially mediated the effects of the stereotype threat reduction condition on proteges' feelings of stereotype threat in their STEM classes. Mentors and proteges in the stereotype threat reduction mentoring condition also reported endorsing incremental theories of intelligence more and endorsing entity theories of intelligence less than mentors and proteges in the other conditions. In summary, the present study's findings suggest that in order maximum stereotype threat reduction to occur in a mentoring relationship, mentors and proteges engage in activities and discussions designed to reduce stereotype threat. Given that prior research has found that decreased stereotype threat, decreased entity theories of intelligence, and increased incremental theories of intelligence are associated with greater interest and performance in STEM domains, the utilization of a stereotype threat reduction mentoring program can help address the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and math related fields.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Industrial and Organizational
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Xavier, Luiz, "Plugging Up the Leaky STEM Pipeline with a Stereotype Threat Mentoring Intervention" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4845.