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Collaborative Learning Eliminates the Negative Impact of Gender Stereotypes on Women’s Self-Concept

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jane Gage Stout Computing Research Association

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Dr. Jane Stout is a social psychologist with expertise in quantitative methods, and social science and education theory. She directs the Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP), which is the Computing Research Association’s research and evaluation center. Her research currently focuses on understanding the perspectives of underrepresented individuals in computing career tracks.

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Neslihan Burcin Tamer Computing Research Association

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Dr. Burçin Tamer is a Research Scientist at the Computing Research Association. She collaborates with the CERP team to evaluate programs that aim to promote diversity in computing related professions. She completed her doctoral training in Political Science and Women’s Studies in 2015 at The Pennsylvania State University.

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A recent recruitment campaign for a tech company featuring female platform engineer Isis Wenger sparked a barrage of scrutiny on social media concerning whether or not Wenger was actually an engineer – this outcry resulted in the #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement on Twitter. A few months earlier, esteemed Nobel laureate and biochemist Tim Hunt, made a public statement that the “trouble with girls” who work in research laboratories is that they “fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry”. These are but two recent examples that have received significant media attention, reflecting a pervasive cultural belief system that questions women’s aptitude and “fit” in technical fields. One troubling ramification of these cultural stereotypes is that they can make their way into women’s personal belief system, which may damage their beliefs about their own ability and “fit” in technical fields.

In the current work, we assessed the impact of women’s negative gender stereotypic beliefs on their own self-conceptions in computing that are linked with academic persistence and success: self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and identification with computing. Self-efficacy refers to beliefs about one’s ability to plan for and execute steps necessary for future success [1], and is know to promote academic performance and motivation [4]. A sense of belonging is defined as the subjective feeling of fitting in and being included as a valued and legitimate member of an academic discipline, and is a predictor of academic persistence and achievement [3]. Finally, domain identification refers to one’s self-definition, or the degree to which one feels that their academic pursuits are an important element of “who they are”. Domain identification is important because when it is high, positive outcomes are self-relevant and rewarding, thereby motivating achievement [2].

We found that women computing majors who personally endorse negative gender stereotypes about women’s ability in computing reported weaker computing self-efficacy, a lower sense of belonging in computing, and less identification with computing. We then examined whether common collaborative learning methods in computing (pair programing; supplemental instruction) can erase the negative relationship between women’s endorsement of negative gender stereotypes and their self-conceptions. Indeed, longitudinal survey data indicated that prior participation in collaborative learning activities cancelled out the negative impact of gender stereotype endorsement on women’s self-conceptions in computing. These findings suggest that although women are at risk of leaving technical fields when they believe cultural stereotypes about women in technical fields, collaborative learning activities may increase the likelihood that these “at risk” women will instead persist and thrive.

[1] Bandura. Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change. Psychological Review, 84(2): 191–215, 1977. J. [2] D. Finn. Withdrawing From School. Review of Educational Research, 59(2): 117–142, 1989. [3] C. Goodenow. The psychological sense of school membership among adolescents: Scale development and educational correlates. Psychology in the Schools, 30(1): 79–90, 1993. 
 [4] R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, and K. C. Larkin. Self-efficacy in the prediction of academic performance and perceived career options. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33:265–269, 1986. 

Stout, J. G., & Tamer, N. B. (2016, June), Collaborative Learning Eliminates the Negative Impact of Gender Stereotypes on Women’s Self-Concept Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26509

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