Self-Stereotypes Still Limit Women’s Performance

A common cultural stereotype in the U.S. is that women perform more poorly than men on quantitative tasks and that Asians perform better than other groups.

Larry Hedges

Larry Hedges

Susan L Forman

Susan L Forman

Test performance data support these perceptions, according to separate findings by Northwestern’s Larry V. Hedges and Amy Nowell, then of University of Chicago, as well as by Susan L. Forman and Lynn Arthur Steen of St. Olaf College.

Lynn Arthur Steen

Lynn Arthur Steen

Asian-American women are susceptible to two conflicting stereotypes regarding quantitative performance.
-*Which stereotype most influences performance?

Margaret Shih

Margaret Shih

UCLA’s Margaret Shih, Todd L. Pittinsky of SUNY, 
and Stanford’s Nalini Ambady activated ethnic identity or gender identity before Asian-American women competed a mathematics test.

Todd Pittinsky

Todd Pittinsky

Volunteers performed better when their Asian ethnic identity was activated, but worse when their gender identity as females was activated, compared with participants who had neither identity activated.

Nalini Ambady

Nalini Ambady

The stereotype threat of gender identity contributed to poorer performance among individuals who could perform better.

Claude Steele

Claude Steele

This effect was demonstrated among African-American students, who were stereotyped to be poor students.
These volunteers underperformed compared with white students in a study by Stanford’s Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson of NYU.

Joshua Aronson

Joshua Aronson

Yale’s Becca Levy demonstrated the same effect by priming elderly participants with a negative stereotype of older people.

Becca Levy

Becca Levy

These volunteers performed more poorly on a memory task in contrast to their superior performance when they were primed with a positive stereotype of aging.

Individuals vulnerable to stereotype threat can mitigate effects by symbolically disconnecting from the self-reputational threat, according to Shen Zhang, then of University of Wisconsin with University of British Columbia’s Toni Schmader and William M. Hall.

Toni Schmader

Toni Schmader

They asked male and female volunteers to complete a math test using their real name or a fictitious name.
Women who used a fictitious name performed significantly better than those who used their actual names, and they reported less self-threat and distraction.

Zhang and team posited that women performed better when they were not part of a group attributed with poorer math performance.

In contrast, male participants performed equivalently when completing the math problems using real and fictitious names, suggesting that stereotype threat is not activated for men during quantitative tasks.

Stereotyping by others and even oneself can undermine task performance, yet consciously refuting the preconception may mitigate these effects.

-* What other approaches do you use to reduce and manage stereotype threat?

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4 thoughts on “Self-Stereotypes Still Limit Women’s Performance

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    William (Bill) LeGray, SrRODC, PhDc(-9)
    FRESH EYES re TALENTS+TEAM-BUILDING w Creative Insights+Collegiality to improve Multi-Disciplinary Fusion and Outcomes writes:

    Kathryn; I have so enjoyed, and my thoughts have dwelled a lot upon, the tremendous effort you are doing to curate re important issues.
    I appreciate that you properly and respectfully champion for the role of men and women working together.
    And, your recent article re how stereotype beliefs restrain women really provided an outlet for me, too.
    I wrote a statement to “share” at your WordPress website and included the URL of a coincident related McKinsey study. However, because I also released it concurrently as a “tweet”, I never did find the statement on LinkedIn.
    I overcame this shortfall by rereleasing most of the information sufficiently.
    The one aspect i didn’t repeat again was that “these stereotypes held as beliefs by persons and groups are suggested by others.”
    And, this fact would/should carry the discussion of realities and remedies along much further, maybe.
    But, acknowledging this also indicates some vulnerability- which, while certainly not to be unexpected, is sometimes thought to be indicative of a certain type of weakness.
    The issues relate a lot to the subjects re power and influence and the resultant interactions that occur. Thank you Kathryn, for the endorsement. 🙂
    Best wishes,

    Reply
    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thanks for sharing McKinsey’s Women Matter summary, advocating:

      -Change in Performance Management models to minimize the negative impact of maternity leave and work flexibility on career track -Increased Sponsorship for diverse groups

      and the underlying full research report – Women Matter 2013Gender diversity in top management: Moving corporate culture, moving boundaries *by Sandrine Devillard,* *Sandra Sancier-Sultan,* *Charlotte Werner.*

      *Kathryn Welds* welds@post.harvard.edu +1 650 740 0763 mobile *LinkedIn | **Blog **|**Google+ ** |Twitter @kathrynwelds * *| Facebook notes *

      On Sat, Jan 25, 2014 at 4:46 PM, Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Paradox of Potential: May be More Appealing than Achievement in Job Search | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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