Stereotypes have long been known to have negative consequences for those exposed to them because stereotypes are based on broad assumptions that are frequently incorrect. The article Stereotype Danger and Women’s Math Performance by Steven J. Spencer, Claude M. Steele, and Diane M. Quinn investigates the topic of stereotype threat in women’s math performance. According to Spencer, Steele, and Quinn (1999), “No other science has been more concerned with the nature of prejudice and stereotyping than social psychology,” which has extensively studied the content of stereotypes and their impact on social perceptions and behavior (p. 5).
The authors’ motivation for conducting the study was to demonstrate the impact of stereotypes, which they observed has an impact on women’s math performance due to the added pressure and prejudice that comes with the stereotype. The authors conducted three studies, each with its unique stereotype perspective, and the findings of the studies were used to form the study’s deductions. Participants were chosen using a stratified sampling method, with certain conditions to be met for each of the studies 1, 2, and 3. In Study 1, for example, a sample size of 28 men and 28 women (56 participants) were chosen from the introductory psychology pool who had completed at least one semester of calculus at the University of Michigan (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999).
The authors of the article experimented in study 1 to observe patterns in stereotypes toward women and find empirical truth to debunk the stereotype that women underperform on difficult tasks while performing well on simpler tasks. The authors demonstrated in study 2 that performance differences between men and women could be eliminated if the stereotype threat was reduced. The final study discovered that when gender stereotypes are prescribed, women are more affected than men, resulting in poor performance. However, once the stereotype threat is removed, women’s performances should improve, eliminating their poor performance (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999).
The article addresses a critical societal issue that affects most women in their learning contexts and provides actual data to back up their point of view. Stereotype treatment is a well-studied topic, and its impact on women, particularly those in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professions, has revealed perspectives similar to those reported in the paper. Makarova, Aeschlimann, and Herzog (2019) agree with the article’s authors, claiming that gender-science preconceptions in society influence people’s views, choices, and desires to pursue STEM disciplines. In contrast, the article fails to recognize the intersection of culture in the stereotype threat issue, which could be said to be the fundamental source of the majority of society’s stereotypes.
In summary, the article contributes to the body of knowledge about the issues underlying stereotype threat and investigates the negative effects it can have on women’s math and other STEM performance. However, the authors argue that eliminating the stereotype threat allows for greater inclusivity and justice in education because both men and women can perform well in math (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). However, according to Ertl, Luttenberger, and Paechter (2017), STEM topics remain male-dominated in current culture due to stereotype threats, which research has condemned.
Ertl, B., Luttenberger, S., & Paechter, M. (2017). The impact of gender stereotypes on the self-concept of female students in STEM subjects with an under-representation of females. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00703.
Makarova, E., Aeschlimann, B., & Herzog, W. (2019). The Gender Gap in STEM Fields: The Impact of the Gender Stereotype of Math and Science on Secondary Students’ Career Aspirations. Frontiers in Education, 4, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2019.00060.
Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M., & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35(1), 4–28. https://doi.org/10.1006/jesp.1998.1373.