College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-17-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Christine Reyna, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ralph Erber, Ph.D.


Despite some advances, the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields persists. Stereotype threat has been cited as a debilitating phenomenon that may contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEM domains (e.g., Ambady, Shih, Kim, & Pittinsky,2001). Using the attributional model of stereotypes (Reyna, 2000), the current work explores the role of attributions in a stereotype threat context. Seventy-two female undergraduates were randomly assigned to one of four attribution conditions to explain female detriments in logical reasoning: effort, ability, society, or no stereotype. All participants then completed a test of logical reasoning. Although previous research has shown that when gender differences are attributed to effort, stereotype threat effects are reduced (i.e., women do not display performance deficits), the current results suggest that although participants in this condition attempted more problems, their accuracy was compromised as a result. The results are discussed in terms of the demands of women in STEM domains as well as the unique information implied by attributional stereotypes.

Included in

Psychology Commons