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Educ Sci (Basel). 2017 Jun;7(2). pii: 65. doi: 10.3390/educsci7020065. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

'Speaking Truth' Protects Underrepresented Minorities' Intellectual Performance and Safety in STEM.

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Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA.
Department of Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY 10017, USA.
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA.
Center for Vulnerable Populations, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


We offer and test a brief psychosocial intervention, Speaking Truth to EmPower (STEP), designed to protect underrepresented minorities' (URMs) intellectual performance and safety in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). STEP takes a 'knowledge as power' approach by: (a) providing a tutorial on stereotype threat (i.e., a social contextual phenomenon, implicated in underperformance and early exit) and (b) encouraging URMs to use lived experiences for generating be-prepared coping strategies. Participants were 670 STEM undergraduates [URMs (Black/African American and Latina/o) and non-URMs (White/European American and Asian/Asian American)]. STEP protected URMs' abstract reasoning and class grades (adjusted for grade point average [GPA]) as well as decreased URMs' worries about confirming ethnic/racial stereotypes. STEP's two-pronged approach-explicating the effects of structural 'isms' while harnessing URMs' existing assets-shows promise in increasing diversification and equity in STEM.


STEM; affirmation; ethnicity; race; stereotype threat

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.

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