What is stereotype threat?
When first reading the prompt I had no idea what a stereotype threat was or what it entailed. I had to do some research on the exactly what was a stereotype threat. This research lead to many websites that state that stereotype threat is “the risk of confirming negative stereotypes about an individual’s racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural group, which was coined by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson.” (Stereotype Threat, 2013). Once I found the definition I was still a little confused on how this truly worked in our minds, so I also looked for some examples that helped me understand stereotype threat better. The best example I found was “the stereotype threat that women experience in math-related domains may cause them to feel that they do not belong in math classes. Consequently they may ‘‘disidentify’’ with math as an important domain, that is, avoid or drop the domain as an identity or basis of self-esteem—all to avoid the evaluative threat they might feel in that domain (Major, Spencer, Schmader, Wolfe, & Crocker, 1998; Steele, 1992, 1997).” I believe that examples like these happen daily and can be seen throughout our society.
How has stereotype threat that has impacted in my life?
To start off, I have never really thought about stereotype threat, obviously, or how it could/ already has impacted me and my life. Once I started to think about the issue though, I was able to come up some ways that stereotype threat has affected me. Being a white male I believe that I have been impacted by stereotype threat, but in the opposite way of some of my classmates. I believe that stereotype threat has done exactly what the examples say, but I would be the person that would be benefitting from the stereotype threat. In most of the examples, it talks about females or minorities facing stereotype threat almost always being compared to white males. So I believe that when I was growing up that I was the one benefitting from these, even though I can not think of specific examples. Then I tried to think of how stereotype threat has affected me in a negative way.
As an agricultural student I believe that people put stereotypes on me, which is truly the only stereotype threat that I can apply to my life at this moment. I have seen some people that I associate with try to be demeaning when it comes to academics because I am an agricultural student. When I was an undergraduate I used to have roommates of all different majors, which I believe made it harder sometimes when I was working on my academics. This also goes along with when I tell my friends or distant family members that major is animal science that they do not really see me potentially working with nutrition of animals, but instead they just see me being a farmer. This stereotype of animal science students only being seen as farmers puts down myself when looking at academics, even though I know I took a majority of the same science level classes as my roommates taking biology or pre-medicine. This stereotype overall though, makes me question myself if I am up to the same standards as my friends.
A future consideration that I have would be a hope that I can be part of the change in the stereotype threat that impacts my peers around me and myself. There was a main takeaway I took away from the readings, which it may be a simple takeaway, but it is truly hard. The main takeaway I got was we as a society need to build each other up, instead of building walls between us and putting each other down. In an article by the APA, Joshua Aronson stated “we can do a lot to boost both achievement and the enjoyment of school by understanding and attending to these psychological processes, thereby unseating the power of stereotypes and prejudice to foil the academic aspirations of the young people who, just by virtue of being born black, brown, or female, are subjected to suspicions of inferiority” (APA, 2006). I thought that was a great statement and definitely should be brought around our schools to allow this to happen across the nation and globe.
There is an issue with this though because being humans we try to fix something, but could end up making that thing worse. I believe that working away from stereotype threat is a difficult task to perform because there are many implications that can be brought into consideration. There are two examples of these implications in our reading on canvas for class on stereotype threat. The first implication brought up by Schmader and Hall if we try to help minorities, then the members of the majority could feel that they are now at a competitive disadvantage. Then there is also a second risk of some backlash from the underrepresented groups. The backlash from the minorities can come about because it can seem that “they require remedial interventions because they are somehow deficient in their skills or abilities” (Cohen, Steele, & Ross, 1999). That is why I think that working away from the stereotype threat seems simple, but it is actually truly hard.
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/research/action/stereotype
Partnership, G. S. (2013, August 29). Stereotype Threat Definition. Retrieved from https://www.edglossary.org/stereotype-threat/
Schmader, T., & Hall, W. M. (2014). Stereotype Threat in School and at Work. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1(1), 30–37. doi: 10.1177/2372732214548861
Cohen, G. L., Steele, C. M., & Ross, L. D. (1999). The mentor’s dilemma: Providing critical feedback across the racial divide. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 1302-1318.