1. Andrei Cimpian
  2. Associate Professor
  3. SBP: The Roots of Female Underrepresentation in STEM and Beyond: Exploring the Development of Gender Stereotypes about Intelligence
  4. https://cimpianlab.com/motivation
  5. New York University
  1. Jilana Jaxon
  2. Doctoral Student
  3. SBP: The Roots of Female Underrepresentation in STEM and Beyond: Exploring the Development of Gender Stereotypes about Intelligence
  4. https://cimpianlab.com/motivation
  5. New York University
  1. Jillian Lauer
  2. Post Doctoral Fellow
  3. SBP: The Roots of Female Underrepresentation in STEM and Beyond: Exploring the Development of Gender Stereotypes about Intelligence
  4. https://cimpianlab.com/motivation
  5. New York University
  1. Molly Tallberg
  2. SBP: The Roots of Female Underrepresentation in STEM and Beyond: Exploring the Development of Gender Stereotypes about Intelligence
  3. https://cimpianlab.com/motivation
  4. New York University
Public Discussion
  • May 13, 2019 | 10:45 a.m.

    Thanks for the provocative question. Given the scale of content in entertainment media that preferences heteronormative male representation as smart (ie: Dexter's Laboratory and his irritating sister DeeDee), how might you talk about migrating the model beyond classroom content?

     
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    Rebecca Grella, Ph.D.
  • Icon for: Jilana Jaxon

    Jilana Jaxon

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 03:31 p.m.

    Thanks for your comment. We definitely agree that these messages aren’t just communicated in the classroom, but rather that children are steeped in a culture that consistently reinforces the association between men and brilliance. Our hope is that by countering these stereotypes at an early age, we can help to inoculate children against messages they may encounter in both their daily lives and the entertainment they consume.

  • May 13, 2019 | 09:53 p.m.

    What an intriguing study! Thank you for sharing your efforts. I would love if you could describe more of your survey metric.   Awesome stuff!

  • Icon for: Jilana Jaxon

    Jilana Jaxon

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 03:19 p.m.

    Thank you! I think you are referring to the adult measure of field-specific ability beliefs, is that right? This metric consisted of a number of statements such as, “Being a top scholar of [discipline] requires a special aptitude that just can’t be taught.” Practitioners across academia rated their agreement to these statements. This work was published in 2015 in Science. For more details, you can see the paper here.

  • Icon for: Noah Feinstein

    Noah Feinstein

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 10:05 p.m.

    This is interesting stuff, and connects so nicely with the research on (for instance) the way that academics discuss male vs. female students in letters of recommendation. My question is similar to John's. I'm a little troubled by the suggestion that the problem can be solved by changing how girls (and boys) think about the value of particular attributes/behavior patterns in science. It seems to me that there is very powerful social and cultural messaging around science that is likely to reinforce the opposite message - and that unless you can change how scientists, science journalists, and popular media (plus little things like the Nobel and Macarthur awards, which tend not be advertised as rewarding hard work) describe the basis of success, whatever messaging you do with young children is just going to come out in the wash. What leads you to believe that intervention focused on the kids, rather than the social context, will have a meaningful effect? 

  • Icon for: Molly Tallberg

    Molly Tallberg

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 02:52 p.m.

    Hi Noah, thanks for your comment! Societal messaging is an important influence that we've considered in our work. Our approach here is to work to inoculate children from a young age against detrimental messages about the sources of intellectual success, which they likely encounter through media, interactions with peers, and in classroom contexts. We aim to give children the tools to understand that success can be obtained through hard work, even if media continues to portray success as solely attributable to natural ability.

     
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    Noah Feinstein
  • Icon for: Noah Feinstein

    Noah Feinstein

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 02:56 p.m.

    Thanks Molly! My question is mostly whether "inoculation" of this sort works. It would be nice if it did! But what evidence supports this assumption? 

  • Icon for: Molly Tallberg

    Molly Tallberg

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 03:23 p.m.

    There is experimental evidence to suggest that how we portray science to children can influence their interest and persistence in scientific subjects, particularly for girls. Here are two examples: work from Allison Master and colleagues about exposure to STEM, and work from Ryan Lei about action-focused language around the sciences.

     
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    Noah Feinstein
  • Icon for: Noah Feinstein

    Noah Feinstein

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 03:26 p.m.

    Great! That's what I was looking for.

  • Icon for: Rabiah Mayas

    Rabiah Mayas

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 01:34 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your project and for highlighting the complexity of stereotypes acquired at an early age and reinforced by social norms, experiences and contexts (as others have mentioned above). I'm curious about your responses to John's and Noah's questions, and also am curious...have you seen any differences in how youth assign brilliance based on the context presented in the photos? I realize the videos have room for only limited examples, but is there any difference when the visual depiction is different (clothing, work/home setting, physical stature and positioning of people in the photos)? I'd be interested to know if the trend you describe holds broadly.

    I also am curious - have you been at all interested in race and gender in your project? It strikes me that the intersection of those domains might lead to more nuanced - but socially pervasive - stereotypes (e.g. Black women as smarter than Black men, but less smart than white men). Do you see any evidence of this and if so, how might it connect to longer-term STEM pursuit?

  • Icon for: Jilana Jaxon

    Jilana Jaxon

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 02:45 p.m.

    Thanks so much for your questions! We agree that context could play a role in children’s judgments of these images. The images used in this work had been normed on several dimensions, such as attractiveness and professional dress, to limit the influence of personal characteristics.   


    We have not yet considered how other contextual features such as setting might influence children’s perceptions of others’ intelligence, but we are currently looking into the possible intersectionality of race and gender in these judgments. We are finding that, as you suggest, race is an important moderating factor in children’s application of gender stereotypes about brilliance. We are really excited about this work and hope to share it soon.

  • Icon for: Rabiah Mayas

    Rabiah Mayas

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 07:59 p.m.

    Hi Jilana, thanks for replying and sharing the information about norming. There are so many variables I'm curious about - gender presence and balance in the household, employment status and career of parents/caregivers, etc. - that could be moderating the uptake of the social stereotypes as well! I imagine your team may be considering these as well; such a complex context for study.

  • Icon for: Sheila Homburger

    Sheila Homburger

    Researcher
    May 15, 2019 | 12:46 a.m.

    Do you have a sense at all for how the way science is portrayed, or how young children perceive the process of science, might play into this? For example, are there ways to portraying science/scientists that emphasize more stereotypically "male" vs. "female" attributes? Would teaching children that science as a collaborative, problem-solving process, as opposed to the work of a lone genius, make a difference in these gendered perceptions?

  • Icon for: Molly Tallberg

    Molly Tallberg

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 05:29 p.m.

    Hi Sheila, thanks for your question! This is precisely the idea that we want to convey to children. Our work suggests that, from a young age, children perceive men as being more naturally intelligent than women, and that science requires this type of natural ability. In changing the narrative around science and how we talk to children about the qualities that make for a good scientist, we hope to shift perceptions and engage both girls and boys in the scientific process. One example of this is Sapna Cheryan's work on redesigning environments to increase girls' participation in computer science. 

  • Icon for: Anne Kern

    Anne Kern

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 04:07 a.m.

    When one looks to a "critical feminist framework" (CFF) to inform us about creating mentoring programs that align with some fundamental criteria of a CFF, issues of gender and patriarchy are easier to attend to, however, more systemic change and societal changes are more difficult. Any thoughts about how we could go about proposing some of these changes?

  • Icon for: Molly Tallberg

    Molly Tallberg

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 05:30 p.m.

    Hi Ann, thanks for this question! I agree that these systemic changes may be much more challenging to facilitate. In our work, we propose that these larger societal changes may come about as a result of educating younger generations about why these structures exist and giving them the tools to overcome the messages they encounter regarding women in science. 

  • Icon for: Karen Miel

    Karen Miel

    Graduate Student
    May 15, 2019 | 12:44 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work. We're looking at elementary students' engineering role models (Role Models in Elementary Engineering Education: https://videohall.com/p/1432) and it sounds like we're drawing from some of the same literature as you.

    I'm curious to hear more about the suggestion in the video that providing relatable role models can inoculate students against gender-linked stereotypes about innate brilliance. Do you have thoughts about how to provide those role models? Something we're thinking about in our project is what it means to "provide" a role model - for example, what kind of relationship might children need to have with a potential role model to see that person as a role model? Are you thinking of role models as closely analogous to vaccines - that is, do children need a brief exposure to a potential role model? Or do they need more ongoing contact?

  • Icon for: Jilana Jaxon

    Jilana Jaxon

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 06:21 p.m.

    Hi Karen, thanks so much for commenting! It is exciting to see the work that others are doing on role modeling. This is something that we are also actively exploring. Currently, we are investigating how the portrayal of role models in children’s stories and media might influence children’s motivation. The question of how much and what type of exposure is needed is also very important. It is possible that brief exposure is not as effective as ongoing contact. However, there may be ways to enhance the efficacy of a more brief intervention, and that is what we are currently looking into.

  • Icon for: Regina Werum

    Regina Werum

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 15, 2019 | 03:55 p.m.

    What a great project, and such compelling findings.  I would like to echo some of the responses by pointing to a trove of social science research that shows persistent cultural stereotypes that are gendered precisely in the ways you suggest we *should* pursue -- attributing women's success to effort (even in light of lacking innate ability) and attributing men's success to brilliance.  By implication then, attributions for failure are also gendered.... (she failed because not smart enough, he failed even though smart just because he did not invest himself).  What will be the unintended consequences then if we try to recruit more women into STEM by stressing they can do it via effort?  How about we change the script to stressing that being brilliant has nothing to do with it -- what if any resistance to that do you anticipate?

     
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    Lorna Quandt
  • Icon for: Jessica Bell

    Jessica Bell

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 20, 2019 | 03:11 p.m.

    I am amazed and dismayed that at age 6 you can observe a significant decrease in females believing they are brilliant.  All efforts to change this response are needed and welcome.  You noted in the presentation that related role models are needed.  Could you share resources or ways that you identify these "relatable" role models that others can adapt to their own classrooms/situations?

  • Icon for: Bonny Ortiz

    Bonny Ortiz

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 20, 2019 | 07:44 p.m.

    A great video! Thank you for sharing your efforts! 

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.