Other Event

Brown Bag: Brief Social-Belonging Intervention Reduces the Gender Achievement Gap in Science
Davis, CA

Dr. Lauren Aguilar will be presenting Brief Social-Belonging Intervention Reduces the Gender Achievement Gap in Science

166 Young Hall
One Shields Ave
Davis, CA 95616

Research suggests gender stereotypes and underrepresentation can lead women to doubt whether they be valued and respected by peers in STEM. The sense that one belongs in a setting has a powerful impact on achievement (Walton & Cohen, 2011). In a field intervention we tested two interventions to improve women’s sense of belonging in an introductory physics course (N = 588), a critical gateway course to STEM majors. First, a 30-45 minute online exercise conveys that worries about belonging in STEM are normal and dissipate over time, which prevents students from inferring that adverse experiences mean global nonbelonging. Second, an organizational classroom intervention was randomized by classroom, designed to promote equal participation among men and women during group work.

We found that the sense of belonging intervention significantly improved women’s grades in the course and the effect was strongest for women who were in our treatment classrooms. The sense of belonging bolstering effect generalized to other STEM course grades during, and subsequent to, the intervention for women. However, women who were in the organizational classroom intervention, but not the social belonging intervention, fared more poorly than any other group, we believe because they did not have adaptive construal afforded by the belonging narrative. The research demonstrates how brief social-psychological interventions can reduce the achievement gap in STEM, as well as protect against challenges women might face with new collaborative classroom practices.