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Reducing Adolescent Girls' Concerns About STEM Stereotypes: When Do Female Teachers Matter?

Abstract

"In two experiments, we examined how teacher gender and stereotype threat cues affected adolescents' self-reported concerns about being negatively stereotyped in computer science courses. High-school students (Experiment 1: N = 218; Experiment 2: N = 193) read about two computer science courses, one with a competent male teacher and one with a competent female teacher, and were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions. In the stereotype threat condition, they read a paragraph that introduced negative stereotypes about girls' performance; in the no gender difference condition, they read a paragraph that countered negative stereotypes; and in the baseline control condition, they read neither paragraph. In both experiments, girls reported more concerns about being negatively stereotyped than boys when the teacher was male versus female, and this effect was specifically driven by significant differences in the stereotype threat condition. When situational cues are threatening, female teachers (compared to male teachers) reduce girls' concerns about being negatively stereotyped, with implications for both theories of identity and educational practice."

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