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“THINKING SHE COULD BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT”: WHY IDENTIFYING WITH THE CURRICULUM MATTERS

Authors


  • Desdamona Rios and Abigail J. Stewart, Departments of Psychology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan; David G. Winter, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Desdamona Rios, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 3032 East Hall, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043. E-mail: drios@umich.edu

Abstract

Researchers have demonstrated that Women's Studies courses can influence changes in beliefs about women, yet there is relatively little research on the impact of introducing material about women into mainstream curriculum. The current study examines the effects of introducing women exemplars into a course that is not identified as “Women's Studies.” Students enrolled in a political psychology course all attended the same lectures and were assigned the same readings; however, one-third of the discussion sections received a gender-inclusive curriculum. As hypothesized, female students in the gender-inclusive sections wrote more frequently about women and leadership in their final exams, including the positive influence of female leaders on their own identities in terms of leadership and career opportunities. These findings suggest that female college students benefit significantly from female exemplars in mainstream course curriculum.

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