Knowing is half the battle: teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women's math performance

Psychol Sci. 2005 Mar;16(3):175-9. doi: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.00799.x.


We tested whether informing women about stereotype threat is a useful intervention to improve their performance in a threatening testing situation. Men and women completed difficult math problems described either as a problem-solving task or as a math test. In a third (teaching-intervention) condition, the test was also described as a math test, but participants were additionally informed that stereotype threat could interfere with women's math performance. Results showed that women performed worse than men when the problems were described as a math test (and stereotype threat was not discussed), but did not differ from men in the problem-solving condition or in the condition in which they learned about stereotype threat. For women, attributing anxiety to gender stereotypes was associated with lower performance in the math-test condition but improved performance in the teaching-intervention condition. The results suggest that teaching about stereotype threat might offer a practical means of reducing its detrimental effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Aptitude
  • Aptitude Tests
  • Arousal*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Prejudice
  • Problem Solving*
  • Self Concept
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Statistics as Topic / education*
  • Stereotyping*