What is it about?

We report the results of a field experiment that tested an intervention to try to improve the academic outcomes of first year college women who planned to major in STEM. We made an attempt to recruit an ethnically diverse sample because much of the past research on interventions to improve women's science outcomes has not carefully examined whether there may be differences in the experiences of women from different ethnic backgrounds. Our initial sample included 115 women from ethnic groups that have historically been well-represented (WR, e.g., European and Asian Americans) in STEM fields and 84 women from ethnic groups that have historically be underrepresented minorities (URM, e.g., African and Latina Americans) in STEM fields. We hypothesized that grade point averages (GPAs) in STEM courses would be higher in the intervention condition relative to the control condition for women from all ethnic groups. However, the intervention only improved the STEM GPAs of women from URM groups.

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Why is it important?

The results of this study are important for several reasons. First, the study points to the importance of taking intersectional approaches to examining the experiences of women in STEM. Second, the study suggests that URM women may benefit from educational interventions that highlight the negative impact of stereotypes on women's STEM outcomes, although additional research is needed to replicate this effect. Finally, the present study suggests that WR women may not always benefit from interventions that emphasize the ways in which women are harmed by negative stereotypes in STEM contexts.

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This page is a summary of: An educational intervention to improve women’s academic STEM outcomes: Divergent effects on well-represented vs. underrepresented minority women., Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, April 2019, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/cdp0000289.
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