Despite recent advances, women remain under-represented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) . Success in STEM is frequently viewed as a matter of being brilliant rather than merely dedicated. There are pervasive cultural stereotypes that associate men, but not women, with possession of brilliance and intellectual talent. The combination of these two factors leads to the underrepresentation of women in STEM, as well as in other fields.
In this project, Asst Prof Setoh will address the persistent gender gap in STEM by studying the developmental origins of stereotypes linking males but not females with raw intellectual brilliance, and the accumulating consequences of these stereotypes on girls’ motivation and educational choices.
This project will investigate the origins and mechanisms underlying children’s gender stereotypes, focusing in particular on children and adults’ awareness of stereotypes equating brilliance with males, the predictive validity and impact of such stereotypes, the potential sources and transmission of such stereotypes, and test evidence-based intervention strategies to reduce such stereotypes.
Whenever females do achieve intellectual success, this success is typically attributed to their efforts, not their innate talent or aptitude. Surrounded by these cultural messages, it is possible that females and males may respond differently to endeavours portrayed as requiring “intellectual gifts.” In particular, women may be less likely than men to pursue degrees and careers in fields whose practitioners believe that raw ability is the key to success in their discipline. This hypothesis, termed the Field-specific Ability Beliefs (FAB) hypothesis. In the present studies, Asst Prof Setoh will test the FAB hypothesis in 5 experiments.
Outcomes of this project would inform discussions about the structural institutions and socialization forces that shape gender stereotypes and how to combat them. These research findings will make an immense contribution to knowledge, theory and practice in the field of developmental psychology, gender equality, education, economics, and policy making.