Advertisement

Ingroup role models and underrepresented students’ performance and interest in STEM: A meta-analysis of lab and field studies

  • Elizabeth K. LawnerEmail author
  • Diane M. Quinn
  • Gabriel Camacho
  • Blair T. Johnson
  • Bradley Pan-Weisz
Review of the literature

Abstract

This meta-analysis synthesizes research on using ingroup role models to improve the performance and interest of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). A systematic literature search resulted in forty-five studies that met the selection criteria, including the presence of a comparison group. Both lab and field studies suffered from small sample bias, with smaller sample sizes predicting larger effect sizes among lab studies, but smaller effect sizes among field studies. Correcting for small sample bias, ingroup role models had a small, but significant positive overall effect (d = 0.20) among field studies and a non-significant overall effect (d = 0.04) among lab studies. The only significant moderator was level of interaction, with in-person role models having smaller effects among lab studies (p = .008). Implications for interventions to increase the representation of female and underrepresented minority students in STEM and future directions for research are discussed.

Keywords

Role models STEM Females Underrepresented minorities Meta-analysis 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

References with an asterisk indicate reports included in the meta-analysis

  1. *Bages, C., & Martinot, D. (2011). What is the best model for girls and boys face with a standardized mathematics evaluation situation: A hardworking role model or a gifted role model? British Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 536–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. *Bages, C., Verniers, C., & Martinot, D. (2016). Virtues of a hardworking role model to improve girls’ mathematics performance. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 40, 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. *Bamberger, Y. M. (2014). Encouraging girls into science and technology with feminine role model: Does this work? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 23, 549–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. *Betz, D. E., & Sekaquaptewa, D. (2012). My fair physicist? Feminine math and science role models demotivate young girls. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 738–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cech, E., Rubineau, B., Silbey, S., & Seron, C. (2011). Professional role confidence and gendered persistence in engineering. American Sociological Review, 76, 641–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. *Cheryan, S., Drury, B. J., & Vichayapai, M. (2013). Enduring influence of stereotypical computer science role models on women’s academic aspirations. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37, 72–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooper, H. (1998). Synthesizing research: A guide for literature reviews (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Corbett, C., & Hill, C. (2015). Solving the equation: The variables for women’s success in engineering and computing. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.Google Scholar
  9. *Davis, N. J. (2001). A study of the impact of a science symposium designed to influence middle school females toward further studies in science. Ph.D., The University of Iowa. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (3018568).Google Scholar
  10. *Ebert, D. (2010). The role model effect on gender equity: How are female college students influenced by female teaching assistants in science? M.S., Arizona State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (1483292).Google Scholar
  11. *Fox, L. H. (1976). Changing behaviors and attitudes of gifted girls. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  12. *Gilbert, P. (2015). The role of role models: How does identification with STEM role models impact women’s implicit STEM stereotypes and STEM outcomes? Ph.D., Tulane University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (3703388).Google Scholar
  13. Halpern, D. F., Aronson, J., Reimer, N., Simpkins, S., Star, J. R., & Wentzel, K. (2007). Encouraging girls in math and science: IES practice guide. Washington, DC: Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  14. *Howard, C. (2015). Do STEM fields need a makeover?: The effect of role model femininity on men and women’s interest in STEM. M.A., San Diego State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (1597856).Google Scholar
  15. *Johnson, J. (1989). Effects of successful female role models on young women’s attitudes toward traditionally male careers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Dallas, TX.Google Scholar
  16. *Kahle, J. B. (1989). SCORES: Science Career Options for Rural Environment Students. Final report. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.Google Scholar
  17. *Kangas, J. (1993). Success rates for African-American AFFIRM students compared to other African-Americans in the same courses, Fall 1992 (Research Report #515). San Jose, CA: San Jose/Evergreen Community College District.Google Scholar
  18. *Kangas, J. (1994a). AFFIRM success rates Compared to success rates of other African-American Students in the same courses, Fall 1993. (Research Report #848). San Jose, CA: San Jose/Evergreen Community College District.Google Scholar
  19. *Kangas, J. (1994b). AFFIRM success rates Compared to success rates of other African-American Students in the same courses, Spring 1994. (Research Report #862). San Jose, CA: San Jose/Evergreen Community College District.Google Scholar
  20. *Lai, C. K. (2010). The impact of priming self-relevant female scientists on women’s implicit science beliefs, aspirations, and test performance. (Unpublished undergraduate thesis). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.Google Scholar
  21. Landivar, L. C. (2013). The relationship between science and engineering education and employment in STEM occupations (American Community Survey Reports, ACS-23). Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  22. *Lawner, E. K. (2014). Impact of role model gender and communality on college women’s math performance and interest in STEM. Unpublished master’s thesis. Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut.Google Scholar
  23. LeBold, W. K. (1978). A model program to provide educational equity for women beginning in engineering. Paper presented at the International Society for Engineering Education Seventh International Symposium, Klegenfurt, Austria.Google Scholar
  24. *Marx, D. M. (2001). Minority role models: Improving minority students’ test performance in the face of negative stereotypes. Ph.D., Harvard University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (3011435).Google Scholar
  25. *Marx, D. M., & Ko, S. J. (2012). Superstars ‘like’ me: The effect of role model similarity on performance under threat. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 807–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. *Marx, D. M., Monroe, A. H., Cole, C. E., & Gilbert, P. N. (2013). No doubt about it: When doubtful role models undermine men’s and women’s math performance under threat. The Journal of Social Psychology, 153, 542–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. *McIntyre, R. B., Lord, C. G., Gresky, D. M., Ten Eyck, L. L., Frye, G. D. J., & Bond, C. F., Jr. (2005). A social impact trend in the effects of role models on alleviating women’s mathematics stereotype threat. Current Research in Social Psychology, 10, 116–137.Google Scholar
  28. *McIntyre, R. B., Paulson, R. M., Taylor, C. A., Morin, A. L., & Lord, C. G. (2011). Effects of role model deservingness on overcoming performance deficits induced by stereotype threat. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(3), 301–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. *Mills, L. A., & Katzman, W. (2015). Examining the effects of field trips on science identity. Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age, Kildare, Ireland.Google Scholar
  30. *Mosatche, H. S., & Lawner, E. K. (2013). Girls Go Techbridge: 2009–2013. New Rochelle, NY: The Mosatche Group.Google Scholar
  31. *Murray, N. G., Opuni, K. A., Reininger, B., Sessions, N., Mowry, M. M., & Hobbs, M. (2009). A multimedia educational program that increases science achievement among inner-city non-Asian minority middle-school students. Academic Medicine, 84, 803–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. National Science Foundation. (2017). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Arlington, VA: Author. Retrieved from: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/digest/about-this-report/. Accessed 5 May 2017.
  33. *Newbill, P. L. (2005). Instructional strategies to improve women’s attitudes toward science. Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (3164126).Google Scholar
  34. Nguyen, H. D., & Ryan, A. M. (2008). Does stereotype threat affect test performance of minorities and women? A meta-analysis of experimental evidence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(6), 1314–1334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. *Plant, E. A., Baylor, A. L., Doerr, C. E., & Rosenberg-Kima, R. B. (2009). Changing middle school students’ attitudes and performance regarding engineering with computer-based social models. Computers & Education, 53, 209–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2012). Engage to excel: Producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-engage-to-excel-final_2-25-12.pdf. Accessed 5 May 2017.
  37. *Schunk, D. H. (1986). Peer models: Effects on children’s achievement behaviors. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  38. *Shapiro, J. R., Williams, A. M., & Hambarchyan, M. (2013). Are all interventions created equal? A multi-threat approach to tailoring stereotype threat interventions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 277–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. *Shin, J. E. L., Levy, S. R., & London, B. (2016). Effects of role model exposure on STEM and non-STEM student engagement. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 46, 410–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stanley, T. D., & Doucouliagos, H. (2014). Meta-regression approximations to reduce publication selection bias. Research Synthesis Methods, 5, 60–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Steele, C. M., Spencer, S. J., & Aronson, J. (2002). Contending with group image: The psychology of stereotype and social identity threat. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 34, 379–440.Google Scholar
  42. *Stout, J. G., Dasgupta, N., Hunsinger, M., & McManus, M. A. (2011). STEMing the tide: Using ingroup experts to inoculate women’s self-concept in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(2), 255–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. *Whigham, M. A. (1985). Variables related to the academic success of women engineering students. Ph.D., Iowa State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (8524709).Google Scholar
  44. *Woodruff, M. G. (1995). Effects of career materials with math information on attitude toward and intention to enroll in mathematics. Ph.D., Arizona State University. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (9611723).Google Scholar
  45. *Young, D. M., Rudman, L. A., Buettner, H. M., & McLean, M. C. (2013). The influence of female role models on women’s implicit science cognitions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37, 283–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityLong BeachUSA
  3. 3.Research DepartmentAssociation of College and University EducatorsNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations