Background literature and hypothesis
Researchers have been puzzled by realization that there is a big difference when it comes to stem field of study. There are always more males than females. The question as to why this is the case continues to beg an answer. Similarly, the marginalized communities have been seen to perform badly in this field. For example, the Hispanics and blacks are few in stem majors as compared to their white counterparts. The decline in the number of stem professionals is linked to women attrition from such subjects as well as the notable small number of minority groups joining these fields of study.
In the past, women and marginalized groups were thought to miss out in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields due to their low socioeconomic class. However, recent research has shown that stereotype threat contributes more to this phenomenon. This is attributed to the anxiety which develops when these groups are subjected to stereotype. According to it is clear that minorities are affected by stereotype threat more than their white counterparts. Their results however indicated that women are not affected by this threat as their male counterparts. According to the study, stereotype threat was a factor leading to minorities, women and white male’s attrition of STEM majors.
In a similar research, negative stereotype on women and maths abilities was identified to be passed on by teachers and parents. Due to this, their attitude towards the subject was affected and thus their performance was hampered. This also made the girls lose interest in stem subjects. According to the study, women facing stereotype threat however their positive attitude lead to poor performance and diminished performance in the stem fields. The stereotype threat is anxiety or concern that the threatened groups are seen as weak. Consequently this labelling affects the target group performance. African-Americans were shown to perform poorly in intelligence measures due to the threat as they are labelled to lack ability. Women were also seen to be affected by same pressure. In a particular experiment, males and female were randomly exposed to learn that a math test results indicated there was gender parity in performance in the past. Group that was not sensitized about gender differences performed equally in the test. In the group that was shown that there was a difference, the females in the group performed poorly when compared to males. These are just of past studies which have shown that stereotype threat affected learners be it gender based or in regard to the minorities such as African Americans or the Hispanics.
In relation to these observations, this study will focus on sexist attitude in engineering class. To enable the research I have hypothesized the following.
I hypothesize that sexist attitude male engineering students or professors will have detrimental effects on performance and lower the self-esteem on the female engineering student.
The study will use quantitative data. This is due to the strength that this data has in discovering how common this behaviour has effect on the subjects. The study will use a questionnaire as the instrument for data collection. However, the study will involve a controlled environment where a group of sample will be controlled and another will be the standard. In this respect the control group will not be manipulated.
The population of the study is university students pursuing engineering courses. The sample will be a random of 32 students both male and females. Half of these will be females. Randomly half of the Female engineering student group and half of the male engineering student group will be condition of stereotype threat before taking the Engineering in Training (EIT) Exam, forming a stereotype threat group. The researcher will tell the person in the stereotype threat group the same message of male is better than men in the engineering field, female engineers are Barbie Engineer, and they need to work harder in the field in order to prove her abilities.
The rest half of the Female engineering student group and rest half of the male engineering student group in normal condition, without stereotype threat, forming a control group, and take the Engineering in Training (EIT) Exam. The result will be discussed in the following section.
First independent Variables
Female engineering student against Male engineering students
Second independent Variables
Half of the Female engineering student group and half of the male engineering student group in the condition of stereotype threat before taking the Engineering in Training (EIT) Exam, forming a stereotype threat group. These will be exposed to the stereotype threat.
The rest half of the Female engineering student group and rest half of the male engineering student group in normal condition, without stereotype threat, forming a control group, and take the Engineering in Training (EIT) Exam.
The mean EIT test performance will be the dependent variable. In simple terms it will be determined by the two independent variables.
The following table and graph presents results of the study
Exposed to stereotype threat
Description of the findings; 1. There was no Main effect of gender such that the average EIT test score of male was equal to that of the female. Average score for both controls was 8.2. There was effect on stereotype threat. Under threat female average was 6 while the males scored higher, 9.3. Interaction: There is an interaction such that for male engineering student with stereotype threat is associated with higher EIT score. For Female engineering student with stereotype threat, is linked with decrease EIT score.
According to the study, it is clear that the stereotype threat can be shown to have effects on female as well as males in performance in the STEM subjects. For females, their performance is negatively affected. As the results indicated, females performed very poor when exposed to this threat. Comparing with control, it is clear that the effect of the threat was real. Similarly, the male students exposed to the threat showed better performance than those who were not exposed. This is an indication that the study results conformed to past studies which showed similar outcomes.
What should be studied more is why males exposed to the threat performed better than the control group. There is need to find why this is the case. Future studies should explore and shed light into this phenomenon.
Limitation of the study
During sampling and randomly selecting participants into the two groups, there would have been a possibility of having better performing students in one group and vice versa. In short there should be equally bright students as the participants. However, this is not possible.
Aronson, J., Lustina, M., Good, C., Keough, K., Steele, C., & Brown, J. (1999). When White Men Can’t Do math: Necessary and sufficient Factors in stereotype Threat. Social Psychology of Education : An International Journal, 3(1), 67-92.
Beasley, M. A., & Fischer, M. J. (2012). Why they leave: The impact of stereotype threat on the attrition of women and minorities from science, math and engineering majors. Social Psychology of Education : An International Journal, 15(4), 427-448.
Shapiro, J. R., & Williams, A. M. (2012). The role of stereotype threats in undermining girls' and women's performance and interest in STEM fields. Sex Roles, 66(3-4), 175-183.