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EFFECTS OF LEARNING ABOUT GENDER DISCRIMINATION ON ADOLESCENT GIRLS' ATTITUDES TOWARD AND INTEREST IN SCIENCE

Authors


  • Erica S. Weisgram, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point; Rebecca S. Bigler, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin.

  • We thank Barbara Kelly for allowing us to be part of the “Expanding Your Horizons” program. In addition, we thank Sarah Abraham, Julie Milligan Hughes, and Meagan Patterson for presenting discrimination lessons, and the many undergraduate students in the Gender and Racial Attitude Lab at the University of Texas at Austin for their research assistance. This research was supported by funds awarded to the first author from the Debra Beth Lobliner Fellowship. Portions of this work were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 2005, Washington, DC.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Erica Weisgram, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, 2100 Main St., Stevens Point, WI 54481. E-mail: Erica.Weisgram@uwsp.edu

Abstract

Gender discrimination has contributed to the gender imbalance in scientific fields. However, research on the effects of informing adolescent girls about gender discrimination in these fields is rare and controversial. To examine the consequences of learning about gender-based occupational discrimination, adolescent girls (n= 158, ages 11 to 14) were randomly assigned to either (a) a standard intervention program aimed at increasing girls' interest in science or (b) a nearly identical program that included information about gender discrimination. Girls' interest in, and attitudes toward, science were assessed using a pre/post design. Only girls who learned about gender discrimination showed increases in science self-efficacy and belief in the value of science; interest in scientific fields was unaffected by the intervention programs. Theoretical and educational implications are discussed.

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