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Take a chance on STEM: Risk-taking buffers negative effects of stereotype threat among women

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Zachary Petzel



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2022.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The present research examined how risk-taking protects against consequences of negative gender stereotypes among women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In Study 1, undergraduate women and men in STEM (N = 1013) took an online survey assessing risk-taking, academic outcomes, and vulnerability to stereotype threat. Risk-taking predicted positive academic outcomes, regardless of gender. However, a significant interaction between gender and risk-taking emerged, indicating women with higher risk-taking reported lower vulnerability to stereotype threat. In Study 2, undergraduate women in STEM (N = 140) participated in an experiment designed to elicit stereotype threat through the framing of a test (math performance versus problem solving skills) while cardiovascular reactivity was assessed. Hierarchical regression revealed women higher in risk-taking experiencing stereotype threat exhibited adaptive cardiovascular reactivity, accounting for improved math performance. Findings suggest risk-taking may buffer consequences of gender stereotypes. Interventions may bolster risk-taking among women in STEM to improve academic performance and retention.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Petzel ZW, Casad BJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Journal of Experimental Education

Year: 2022

Volume: 90

Issue: 3

Pages: 656-672

Online publication date: 24/11/2020

Acceptance date: 01/11/2019

Date deposited: 07/01/2021

ISSN (print): 0022-0973

ISSN (electronic): 1940-0683

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00220973.2020.1848766


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