Are Stereotypes True?

Together, decreases in women’s scores caused by  stereotype threat combined with increases in men’s scores caused byStereotype Lift work together to exaggerate the performance differences found between men and women in math domains. These exaggerated performance differences confirm and perpetuate the stereotype that women can’t do math, and the cycle ofstereotype threat and  Stereotype Lift continues with even greater fervor. It is a vicious cycle: the stereotype causes gender differences in math performance; these differences in performance confirm the stereotype; the stereotype grows stronger and is even more likely to produce exaggerated group differences. As a result of the seemingly inevitability of male superiority in math domains, fewer women enter math-related jobs and college courses because they view their efforts as futile. They may think to themselves, what’s the use of pursuing a career in math if I’m not genetically wired to do math and will always be outperformed by my male colleagues? Instead, they may seek self-worth from success in areas in which women are not negatively stereotyped. The small number of women in math-related fields further confirms and perpetuates the stereotype. It seems to be a never-ending cycle, but the negative effects of stereotypes are not inevitable. First, certain factors must be present forstereotype threat to occur, and second, the negative effects of  stereotype threat can be prevented.

article author(s)