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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.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY 10017, USA.
3
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA.
4
Center for Vulnerable Populations, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
5
Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

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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