STEMing the tide: using ingroup experts to inoculate women's self-concept in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Feb;100(2):255-70. doi: 10.1037/a0021385.


Three studies tested a stereotype inoculation model, which proposed that contact with same-sex experts (advanced peers, professionals, professors) in academic environments involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enhances women's self-concept in STEM, attitudes toward STEM, and motivation to pursue STEM careers. Two cross-sectional controlled experiments and 1 longitudinal naturalistic study in a calculus class revealed that exposure to female STEM experts promoted positive implicit attitudes and stronger implicit identification with STEM (Studies 1-3), greater self-efficacy in STEM (Study 3), and more effort on STEM tests (Study 1). Studies 2 and 3 suggested that the benefit of seeing same-sex experts is driven by greater subjective identification and connectedness with these individuals, which in turn predicts enhanced self-efficacy, domain identification, and commitment to pursue STEM careers. Importantly, women's own self-concept benefited from contact with female experts even though negative stereotypes about their gender and STEM remained active.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Attitude
  • Career Choice
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Engineering*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Peer Group
  • Science*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Identification
  • Stereotyping
  • Students / psychology
  • Technology*