Celebrate International Women in Math Day with Dr. Hilary Bergsieker
The Social “Threatwork”: Connecting Women's Exclusion from STEM Social Networks to Implicit and Explicit Gender Stereotypes
When, why, and with what effect are women sometimes excluded from informal social networks in STEM fields? Drawing on social identity threat and structural hole theories, a series of studies assess social network dynamics that may limit women's full inclusion in STEM circles.
In experiments with 1,065 Waterloo undergraduates enrolled in male-dominated STEM majors (including math), women (but not men) anticipated repetitional penalties if they associated with a woman who expressed stereotypically feminine interests. Women whose social network positions gave them less brokerage (i.e., reduced ability to manage information flows between unconnected friends) were less willing to befriend and socially integrate other women with feminine- (vs. STEM-) stereotypic interests. Next, in field research with 1,247 full-time employees working at North American STEM organizations, men who held stronger STEM=male implicit associations reported less often choosing to socialize with their female teammates. In turn, for women at these same organizations, receiving fewer social ties from male teammates was associated with worse workplace outcomes: lower engagement, self-efficacy, and feelings of fit, plus greater concerns about being judged on the basis of gender at work. Finally, a series of mathematical simulations model the estimated impact of men intervening to counteract gender bias and support women's full inclusion in STEM workplaces. Implications for advancing gender inclusion in STEM fields are discussed.
Visit the Psych EDI working group webpage before the talk to learn some useful definitions.