Researchers Challenge the Theory of Stereotype Threat

The theory of stereotype threat, first publicized in 1999, says that due to the commonly held stereotype that women do not possess mathematical skills that are equal to men, women develop a sense of inferiority that leads them to underachieve in mathematics.

But in a new paper scheduled for publication in the Review of General Psychology, David Geary, a professor of psychology at the University of Missouri and Giljsbert Stoet of the University of Leeds state that studies of stereotype threat had major methodological flaws, used improper statistical methods, and did not produce any scientific evidence that stereotype threat actually exists.

“The stereotype theory really was adopted by psychologists and policy makers around the world as the final word, with the idea that eliminating the stereotype could eliminate the gender gap,” professor Geary says. “However, even with many programs established to address the issue, the problem continued. We now believe the wrong problem is being addressed.”

Professor Geary believes that the studies have major flaws. “We were surprised the researchers did not subject males to the same experimental manipulations as female participants. It is reasonable to think that men also would not do well if told ‘men normally do worse on this test’ right before they take the test. When we adjusted the findings based on this and other statistical factors, we found little to no significant stereotype theory effect.”

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply