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Implicit and Explicit Balanced Identity Scores Vary as a Function of Gender and STEM Major

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2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity)


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

February 20, 2022

Start Date

February 20, 2022

End Date

July 20, 2022

Conference Session

Technical Session 8 - Paper 4: Implicit and Explicit Balanced Identity Scores Vary as a Function of Gender and STEM Major

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions

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Paper Authors


Rachelle Pedersen Texas A&M University

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Rachelle Pedersen is a first-year Ph.D. student pursuing a degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Engineering Education at Texas A&M University. She holds a Master's of Science in Curriculum & Instruction from Texas A&M and a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering Science (Technology Education) from Colorado State University. She previously taught for 5 years in Connecticut at a high school teaching technology education. Rachelle's research interests center around broadening participation in STEM (specifically Engineering) education and the role of identity development and social influencers on belonging and persistence in the field.

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Nyima Sanneh Motivation and Learning Lab

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Nyima Sanneh is a 2nd year student at Texas A&M University pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Nyima's research interests have been related to understanding the gender and racial disparities in STEM and finding ways to correct these gaps. As a second year undergraduate researcher for the Motivation and Learning Lab, Nyima has been able to aid in this kind of research, presenting during Student Research Week.

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Paul R Hernandez Texas A&M University

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I earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2011. I'm currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture (Joint appointment in Educational Psychology) at Texas A&M University. I teach graduate courses in measurement, research design, and statistics. My research focuses on the contextual factors, developmental relationships, and motivational processes that support and broaden participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers – particularly for students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM.

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Keywords Undergraduate, Gender, Engineering, Computer Science

Introduction Despite efforts to diversify undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs, there is still a gender gap in many (male-dominated) STEM fields. That is, regardless of precollegiate academic abilities, women are underrepresented in fields such as engineering and computer science (NGC, 2020; Schneider et al., 2015) and often experience more gender harassment in these fields when compared to their female counterparts in gender-equivalent fields (i.e. Natural Sciences; Brooke et al., 2017). Research indicates that exposure to persistent gender stereotypes, often reinforced by numerical dominance, lowers women’s sense of belonging and hinders personal-professional identity development, which in turn leads to women leaving STEM fields at a higher rate than their male peers (Dasgupta & Stout, 2014; Diekman et al., 2010). Balanced identity theory (Greenwald et al., 1998), suggests that individuals who achieve balance across central personal-professional identities will be more likely persist in their academic and career pursuits. This study utilizes a novel methodology of individual Balanced Identity Design (BID; NSF #1920786), which can be used to quantify the extent to which these identities are in balance or in conflict.

Current Study In the present study, the three most relevant central personal-professional identities were: Self-STEM, Self-Gender, and the STEM-Gender association. These three central identities can be measured explicitly (i.e. survey scales) and implicitly (i.e. Implicit Association Tests; Greenwald et al., 2002). The present study sought to understand if identity balance varied as a function of gender identity (men, women) and major (Science, Engineering/Computer Science).

Methods The current study is a part of a larger, 2.5-year longitudinal study of identity development and balance among ethnically diverse undergraduates in STEM majors within Natural Sciences (73%), Engineering (18%), and Computer Science (9%) from three California State University schools. The analytic sample (measured Fall 2018) included 146 juniors and seniors (59% Hispanic, 58% female). Potential participants were emailed an initial screening survey to verify that they were currently of junior/senior academic status, either White or Hispanic/Latinx, and currently enrolled in a STEM field. Following acceptance into the MyCollegePathways study, eligible participants completed a series of three randomly displayed, online Implicit Association Tests (IAT; Greenwald et al., 1998), and answered a series of explicit survey questions, which included validated measures of participants’ perceived gender identity (Luhtanen & Crocker, 1992), STEM identity (Chemers et al., 2011), and STEM stereotype endorsements (Schmader et al., 2004). Individual implicit and explicit balance identity scores were calculated based on the correspondence of Self-STEM, Self-Gender, and STEM-Gender IAT or survey scale scores.

Results First, a multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine if implicit balance scores varied as a function of female status or Science major status. The results indicated that Science majors reported higher implicit balance scores than Engineering/Computer Science majors (b1=0.41 p

Pedersen, R., & Sanneh, N., & Hernandez, P. R. (2022, February), Implicit and Explicit Balanced Identity Scores Vary as a Function of Gender and STEM Major Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana.

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