IMPRESSIONS OF WOMEN AND MEN IN STEM FIELDS
Author: Kaelina Perron
Graduation Year: 2017
Thesis Advisor: Shannon K. McCoy
Description of Publication: In our contemporary world, feminist movements advocating for gender equality do actively exist yet women continue to face oppression and discrimination. Sexism remains deeply embedded in our society because stereotypes have continuously marginalized women as incompetent when compared to men (Cundiff & Vescio, 2016). Although women have made gains in settings such as the workplace, women continue to remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM; National Science Foundation, 2016). When women hold positions of value or authority, they are viewed as less capable than men because of their lack of fit with the masculine qualities associated with the role (Eagly & Karau, 2002). When women embrace their feminine qualities, such as wearing make-up and caring about personal appearance, this makes her more at odds with the masculine role. The present study examines whether perceptions of women applying for STEM careers depend on whether they are wearing make-up or not. Additionally, we examined the perceptions of males applying for STEM occupations when groomed and not groomed in appearance. Lastly, we measured participants’ view of their own personal fit in STEM fields. We predict that women will be viewed as more suitable for STEM when wearing no make-up than when wearing make-up. We also anticipate that males will be viewed as more capable of performing in STEM when they are not groomed than when they are groomed. Additionally, we hypothesize that women’s interest in STEM will increase when viewing a female applicant embracing her femininity, by wearing cosmetics than when she is not. By studying impressions of females and males based on appearance, we gain a better understanding of the inequality between sexes. The research supports the need to encourage female involvement within STEM fields and implement interventions in order to close the gender gap.
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