33 SES 01 A, Gender and STEM Education
In the expectancy-value theoretical framework (Eccles et al., 1983), expectancies for success play a major role in academic and professional orientation, alongside the value that individuals place in a given achievement domain. In addition, gender differences have been a central focus of the theory over the years (Eccles, 1994). More specifically, studies conducted in this theoretical framework tended to show that gender differences in beliefs and values are usually stereotype-consistent (e.g., Eccles, Wigfield, Harold, & Blumenfeld, 1993; Eccles et al., 1989; Wigfield et al. (1997). Expectancies for success are theorized to directly influence not only achievement-related choices, but also effort, persistence, and performance in a given domain. They are simply defined as the degree to which a person expects to succeed on a given task or in a given domain in the future, and are distinguished from the construct of self-efficacy, which is more task-focused and related to the present moment (although the two are highly related, Pajares, 1996). Expectancies for success are themselves thought to be determined by several other constructs, stemming from cultural milieu, socialization, aptitudes, and previous achievement experiences (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). It has been shown that women have less confidence than do men in their future success in science-related professions, while men were less confident than women in health-related and other female-typed professions (Jozefowicz, Barber, & Eccles, 1993). In Eccles et al.’s (1983) expectancy-value model, this difference in expectancies for success is partly accounted for by children’s perception of “activity stereotypes”, resulting from culture and socialization, which plays an important role in the model. In other words, expectancies for success are expected to be at least partly predicted by the degree to which children perceive activities and professions in a stereotyped way. Also, difference in expectancies for success can be explained with self-schemata, which also plays a prominent role in the model. In fact, they are an even more proximal determinant of expectancies for success than stereotypes (Eccles, 1994), and are themselves partly grounded in stereotypes. Self-schemata are cognitive generalizations derived from past experiences (Markus, 1977). These cognitive constructions guide the processing of self-relevant information. A person who is schematic on a given attribute, say independence, believes s/he is highly characterized by this trait, and views the trait as important. We suggest that gender identification, or the degree to which a person sees him/herself as a typical representative of one’s gender and considers it important, is a particular, gender-relevant self-schema. In other words, the more someone is strongly identified with their gender, the more that person is schematic on gender. As an instance of self-schemata, gender identification should then, in the framework of expectancy-value theory, also predict expectancies for success in STEM-related fields.
As the research reviewed above suggests, both stereotype endorsement and gender identification have been shown or theorized to lead to more stereotype-consistent thought and behavior. However, one question that has rarely been addressed to date is the interplay between these two constructs in relation to stereotype-relevant outcomes. In other words, is it necessary for highly identified women to personally endorse the stereotypes to show stereotype-consistent thought and behavior? If a woman is both highly identified with her gender and strongly endorses gender stereotypes, is that even more likely to lead her to display stereotype-consistent thought and behavior than a high level of either of these constructs alone? As stereotype endorsement and gender identification have rarely been assessed in the same study, answering this question is difficult. The present research will therefore bring a specific theoretical contribution by investigating how gender identification predicts expectancies for success in STEM-related professions independently from gender-stereotyped beliefs.
Participants Participants were 880 Croatian primary school pupils. Measures Alongside a gender variable, the following measures were used. Stereotyped beliefs about STEM professions were assessed via a list of 16 STEM-related professions which were based on the List of STEM Occupations in O*NET Database from STEM Careers Inventory Administrator's Guide (Shatkin, 2011). Participants had to indicate whether the profession was „generally more suitable for girls or for boys“. The midpoint of the scale (3) indicated the belief that a profession is equally suitable for both genders. We calculated an index of stereotypical beliefs by averaging the students' answers for professions stereotypically seen as predominantly „male“. Higher score on this measure indicates that students have stronger stereotyped beliefs that STEM-related professions are more appropriate for men than for women. Gender identification was assessed with six items that measure to what extent do students see themselves as a „typical“ boy or girl. Responses were given on a five point Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Index of gender identification was calculated by averaging student's ratings, whereby two items were reverse coded. Higher score on this measure indicates that students identify more with their own sex. Expectancies for success in STEM-related professions were assessed via list of the same aforementioned 16 STEM-related professions. Students had to indicate how successful do they think they will be in each STEM-related profession. Responses were given on a five point Likert scale from 1 (very unsuccessful) to 5 (very successful). Total score was calculated as mean belief about one's potential success in the 16 STEM-related professions from the questionnaire. Higher score indicates higher expectancy for success in STEM-related professions. Procedure The present data were collected in 8 Croatian primary schools during the first testing phase of the larger JOBSTEM research project. The results presented here concern a subset of the whole sample, i.e. they include only the data from participants in the control schools. The questionnaires were administered to the students in their own classrooms in a paper and pen format during school hours. The testing for the whole questionnaire, in which the scales described above were embedded, took two successive school periods (2 x 45 minutes) with a short 5-minute break in-between, and was scheduled with the schools in advance. Each testing session was overseen by researchers and/or research assistants, who read the preliminary instructions out loud and answered any questions.
Conducted regression analysis with 7 predictors (gender, stereotyped beliefs about STEM-related professions, gender identification, and all interaction terms involving these factors as predictors) accounted for 6% of the total variance in expectancies for success in STEM-related professions, which corresponds to a relatively small but significant effect, F(7, 855) = 8.90, p < .001. Gender significantly predicted expectancies for success in STEM-related professions, such that boys (M = 2.79) expected to be more successful than girls (M = 2.55), consistent with the gender stereotype content (predicted means calculated at mean levels of gender identification and stereotyped beliefs). In addition, gender identification significantly predicted expectancies for success in STEM-related professions, such that high gender identification was positively related with expectancies for success. However, these effects were qualified by significant interactions - gender significantly interacted with both the level of gender identification and the level of stereotyped beliefs to predict expectancies for success. The gender by gender identification interaction showed that boys thought they would be more successful than girls in STEM-related professions only on high levels of gender identification (at +1SD from the mean), B = 0.36, SE = 0.08, t(855) = 4.29, p < .001 , 2p = .02. The gender by stereotyped beliefs interaction showed that the effect of gender was significant only on high levels of stereotype endorsement (at +1SD from the mean), such that, once again, boys expected to be more successful than girls, B = 0.54, SE = 0.08, t(855) = 6.42, p < .001 , 2p = .046. The regression model did not yield a significant higher-order interaction, suggesting that gender identification and stereotyped beliefs about STEM-related professions interact with gender independently from one another.
Eccles, J. S. (1994). Understanding women's educational and occupational choices: Applying the Eccles et al. Model of achievement-related choices. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 585-609. Eccles, J. S., Adler, T. F., Futterman, R., Goff, S. B., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J. L., & Midgley, C. (1983). Expectancies, values and academic behaviors. In J. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motives. San Francisco: W. H. Freemen. Eccles, J. S., Wigfield, A., Flanagan, C., Miller, C., Reuman, D., & Yee, D. (1989). Selfconcepts, domain values, and self-esteem: Relations and changes at early adolescence. Journal of Personality, 57, 283 -310. Eccles, J., Wigfield, A., Harold, R. D., & Blumenfeld, P. (1993). Age and gender differences in children's self and task perceptions during elementary school. Child Development, 64(3), 830-847. Jozefowicz, D. M., Barber, B. L., & Eccles, J. S (1993, March). Adolescent work-related values and beliefs: Gender differences and relation to occupational aspirations. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans, L.A. Markus, H. (1977). Self-schemata and processing information about the self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(2), 63-78. doi: 10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199 Pajares, F. (1996). Self-efficacy beliefs and mathematical problem-solving of gifted students. Contemporary educational psychology, 21, 325-344. doi: 10.1006/ceps.1996.0025 Shatkin, L. (2011). STEM Careers Inventory. Retrived from: http://jist.emcp.com/stem-careers-inventory.html Wigfield, A. i Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 68–81. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1015 Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Yoon, K. S., Harold, R. D., Arbreton, A., Freedman-Doan, C., Blumenfeld, P. C. (1997). Changes in children's competence beliefs and subjective task values across the elementary school years: A three-year study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 451-469.
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