Category: Women's Issues / Gender

Symposium

Ethnic Variation in Women's STEM Participation: An Intersectional Approach

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Indigo 204, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Diversity | Women's Issues | Gender
Presentation Type: Symposium

Research has demonstrated the powerful effect of cultural representations of STEM as masculine on women’s outcomes; however, little is known about how cultural variations in perceptions of gender across ethnic groups might exacerbate or mitigate these social identity effects. Because dominant cultural representations of gender are based on White prototypes of male and female, there are likely ethnic differences in the extent to which individuals internalize mainstream representations of gender into their self-concept. Thus, social identity research that focuses on predominantly White women’s experiences in STEM might provide an incomplete picture of how gendered cultural representations influence all ethnic groups of women in STEM. To redress this limitation, we used an intersectional approach to examine whether cultural representations of STEM as masculine have different implications for women whose ethic group is well-represented (WR) in STEM (European or Asian American) versus women whose ethnic group (e.g., African or Latina American) are underrepresented minorities (URM) in STEM. An analysis of the Cooperative Institute Research Program Freshman Survey (N = 1,772,133) indicated that African American college women participated in STEM majors at higher rates than did European American college women. Two studies in our lab (N = 153) and (N = 890) replicated this finding and further showed that gender differences in STEM participation were pronounced among European American women and men relative to African American women and men. Further, African American women had weaker implicit gender-STEM stereotypes than did European American women, and ethnic differences in implicit gender-STEM stereotypes mediated ethnic differences in STEM participation. In a fourth study (N = 241), beliefs that gender differences in STEM are legitimate predicted reduced performance on a STEM-based test among women who were led (versus not led) to anticipate potential sexist treatment. These effects however, were only evident among WR, but not URM, women. We discuss the implications of an intersectional approach for understanding the relationship between gender and STEM participation.

Donna M. Garcia

Associate Professor
California State University, San Bernadino

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Ethnic Variation in Women's STEM Participation: An Intersectional Approach



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