Relevant Degree Programs
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Social identity threat has most often been examined as impairing academic achievement among female and minority students. But for those who successfully advance into graduate school and professional settings, social identity threat might continue to be triggered by ambiguously negative interactions with others. My goal was to investigate the experience of social identity threat among samples of professionals in the workplace and students training in STEM programs with the aim of identifying triggers of threat, contextual and interpersonal buffers against threat, and cognitive consequences. To do this I conducted a series of studies in which I explored two research questions: 1) What are the antecedents and consequences of social identity threat in STEM workplace conversations? 2) Do gender inclusive policies and/or a higher representation of women in a workplace reduce the experience of social identity threat in workplace conversations? I used a series of daily diary studies and an experiment to answer these questions. To test whether interpersonal experiences in STEM workplaces and graduate programs are a source of social identity threat for women, participants reported their interactions with colleagues using daily dairies over the course of two weeks. Across three samples, results of multilevel modeling revealed that: 1) women (but not men) reported greater daily experiences of social identity threat on days when their conversations with men (but not women) cued a lack of acceptance, and 2) these daily fluctuations of social identity threat predicted feelings of mental burnout, consistent with a capacity deficit model of social identity threat. The two workplace samples, along with an experiment with undergraduate engineers, were used to examine whether gender inclusive workplace policies and practice and/or a higher representation of women in a workplace relate to improved cross-sex interactions and reduced social identity threat for women in STEM settings. Results revealed that female engineers’ daily actual and anticipated experience of social identity threat was lower in companies perceived to have more gender inclusive policies, as mediated by more positive conversations with male colleagues. The implications for reducing social identity threat in naturalistic settings are discussed.
This dissertation explores the possibility that persistent gender inequality in the domestic sphere, wherein women do disproportionately more childcare and housework than men, might explain some of the variance in women’s adherence to traditional gender roles. I present three separate papers addressing the broad research topic of gender role complementarity (i.e., how rigid masculinity stereotypes governing men’s behavior impact women’s possible selves). First, I summarize a study of how the self-views of over 320 children are predicted by the beliefs and behaviors of their parents. The most relevant finding to this dissertation is that grade-school-aged girls with traditionally career-focused fathers reported female-stereotypic career aspirations, but girls whose fathers helped out more with domestic tasks nominated more gender-neutral career aspirations. Second, a set of four experiments tested a complementarity hypothesis, whereby women’s expectations about men’s willingness to adopt caregiving roles in their future families might contribute to whether women can imagine themselves as breadwinners and enable them to pursue their career ambitions. Results showed that women who were primed with counter-stereotypical male exemplars or information that men are increasingly assuming caregiving roles (as opposed to being more career-focused) were more likely to envision themselves as the primary economic provider of their future family. Furthermore, this gender role complementarity was particularly strong among women with more ambitious career goals. These patterns suggest that women's stereotypes about men's roles in the future could constrain the decisions they are making in the present. Finally, in the last set of studies, I find evidence that women are less attracted to agentic, career-oriented potential romantic partners than more communal, family-oriented or balanced potential partners, as predicted by their desire to become a breadwinner. Taken together, these studies highlight broader considerations for gender equality, beyond focusing on the workplace in isolation. Future directions for research on the perceptions and implications of gender role change are also discussed.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
State authenticity (SA) is defined as “the sense or feeling that one is currently in alignment with one’s true or genuine self” (Sedikides et al., 2017). Recent models have conceptualized SA as distinct from trait authenticity and as a key predictor of situation selection with implications for how people self-sort by social identities (see Schmader & Sedikides, 2017). Critically, experiences of SA are predicted to arise from three distinct types of fit to the environment: self-concept, goal, and social fit. The present work aims to empirically test key assumptions of the SAFE (State Authenticity as Fit to the Environment) model and apply this model to academic (Chapter 2) and cultural (Chapter 3) contexts. In Chapter 2 (Studies 1-2), I review how identification with engineering versus psychology predicts greater approach intentions in the environment associated with engineering versus psychology, as fully mediated by SA. In Study 2, I review how SA can be understood as a mechanism of gendered occupational segregation. In Chapter 3 (Studies 3-4), I review how identification with mainstream culture predicts greater SA, as mediated by the three types of fit to the environment. In Study 4, I review how these outcomes also translate into student motivation on campus. Together, these findings add to current understandings of SA and highlight identification with one’s environment as a key antecedent to fit and authenticity.
Whereas women are increasingly moving into the workforce in general, and formerly male-dominated careers in specific, men continue to be underrepresented in the fields of healthcare, early education and the domestic sphere (HEED; Croft, Schmader, & Block, 2015). The current work sought to understand why men continue to show little interest in HEED careers and don’t perceive them as broadly valuable to the same extent women do. Previous research suggested that men and women show differing interest in Science and Technology careers to the extent that women are more communally oriented than men (Diekman et al., 2011). In three studies, the current research tested the hypothesis that men see HEED careers as less interesting and valuable than do women to the extent that men hold less communal (vs. agentic and competitive) goals than women. Study 1 and 2 show that gender differences in interest in and value assigned to HEED roles were indeed mediated by men’s relatively lower communal goals. In addition, study 2 suggested that competitiveness may play a special role in explaining why men, more so than women, tend to expect a breadwinner rather than a primary caregiver role in their future. Study 3 provided first experimental evidence that activating men’s communal goals can increase their interest in HEED occupations.
How can we learn from our mistakes if we’re unaware they exist? Past research has proposed that teachers’ preconceptions guide interactions with their students. Consequently, we believe negative stereotypes might lead evaluators to provide biased feedback to stigmatized students, particularly when they are giving this feedback directly to the students. The present research sought to distinguish whether non-stigmatized evaluators over-represent positive feedback or under-represent negative feedback on minority writing. We also explored the role of prejudice and motivations to control it, and a desire to protect stigmatized students as possible predictors of these biases. Across two studies, participants highlighted instances of good/bad writing in essays purportedly written by a White or a minority student (Study 1: Aboriginal; Study 2: Black). Results showed that although participants provided equivalent gestalt evaluations and positive feedback to both authors, they provided less negative feedback overall to a minority student author (Study 2). Furthermore, this feedback withholding bias was strongest among evaluators who were externally but not internally motivated to control their biases (Studies 1 & 2). Participants with these motivations also provided inflated global appraisals of minority student writing in an effort to maintain consistency after withholding negative feedback. These findings suggest that stigmatized students might sometimes fail to receive the criticism necessary to identify areas needing improvement, particularly when evaluators are concerned about appearing prejudiced. Implications for minority student motivation, learning and performance will be discussed. Potential future directions are suggested for reducing the feedback withholding bias via practical interventions.