Stereotype Threat

Stereotype and stereotype threats:

Stereotypes are “a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group” (Dictionary,n.d.). Although stereotypes are not as visible in society today, they are still very prominent. People are stereotyped every day intentionally or unintentionally by others.

Stereotype threats are defined as “an individual’s concern with confirming a negative stereotype about his or her group” (Schmader & Hall, 2014). Negative stereotypes of a certain group(s) can have a negative impact on their performance/success.

How stereotypes have impacted my life?

As I shared in my previous blog post, I was born in India and moved to the United States in 2008. Since 2008, I have been fallen victim to stereotypes many times. Two of the statements/comments I have heard people say the most include “You’re Indian/Asian, right? You are very smart and must be good at math and science.” and “You speak English very well. You don’t even have an accent.”

While having people think of you as being very smart may sound very positive, it has had a very negative impact on me. I was always under pressure to perform well academically especially in math and science because that is what everyone expected of me. And, when I didn’t perform so well, I felt like a failure. Furthermore, during the times when I didn’t understand the concept/content, I was too embarrassed to approach the professor or peers to ask for help because of the image that my peers had created of me (being very smart). This certainly impacted my grades negatively.

Another stereotype I often hear from individuals I interact with is that I speak English very well and without an accent. As I reflect back on this stereotype, I don’t believe this has had any negative impact on me. However, this is certainly a negative stereotype as the statement implies that Indian people don’t speak English properly and without an accent.

Future considerations/implications:

As I think of the future, I can’t see our society without stereotypes. Stereotypes are here to stay and will be very hard to eliminate completely.  One way to combat this issue is by recognizing and educating everyone on the issue, and the negative impact it can have on the specific population targeted. However, it starts with us educating ourselves first.

As a professional working in an orientation functional area, I will be working with college students and families quite frequently. Therefore, I will take any opportunity I am presented with to continue to educate myself on this topic to ensure my decisions/actions are not influenced by stereotypes. Additionally, as an Orientation professional, my responsibilities will include training, supervision, and professional development of the student leaders. To educate student leaders on stereotypes and stereotype threats and the impact it has on targeted groups, I will conduct various workshops/trainings as well as collaborate with campus partners who are competent on this topic. Furthermore, I will train student leaders on how to deal with such instances where the student(s) or family member(s) may be affected by stereotypes and what resources to utilize.

References:

  • Stereotype Threat in School and at Work: Putting Science Into Practice by Toni Schmader and William M. Hall (Canvas)
  • https://www.dictionary.com/browse/stereotype?s=t

4 Replies to “Stereotype Threat”

  1. Thanks for sharing, I understand feeling pressured to do well academically. How did you get around your hesitancy to ask for help in your classes? I really struggle with admitting I need help with something.
    -SE

  2. I completely agree with you when you say that stereotypes are here to stay. Even if we cannot get them to go away, we can do our part and educate ourselves and those around us in order to alleviate some. The more people that are educated about the topic, the better!

  3. Thanks for the post, Parth. I am also from India. And I faced similar stereotypes since I came to U.S.A. One such event that comes to my mind right now. I was stopped by a cop on an interstate. While he was talking to me, he asked me Where I was from? And when I told him India, he said: “I am surprised that you speak so good English even being from a developing country like India”. So yeah, I am sure, one cannot completely stop such stereotypes but hopefully, they will become less as years pass by.

  4. Parth, thanks for sharing! I could imagine how people saying these things to you would not only be annoying but also demeaning. I hate to say it but unfourtnately I think you hit the nail on the head. Eradicating stereotypes will likely prove impossible. Like you said the best we can do is educate/inform people of the negative/awefull effects stereotypes have on individuals.

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