Blind to Bias: The Benefits of Gender-Blindness for STEM Stereotyping

Blind to Bias: The Benefits of Gender-Blindness for STEM Stereotyping

By
Ashley Martin, Katherine W. Phillips
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (in press). January
23, 2019

Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. As such, there has been an increased interest in interventions to reduce bias against, and increase inclusion of, women in STEM. In this paper, we compare and contrast two commonly used strategies: awareness and blindness. We demonstrate that gender-blindness—a diversity ideology that advocates for downplaying gender differences, rather than embracing them—has the potential to diminish stereotyping of women in STEM fields. In six total studies, we show that men who believe, or are primed with, gender-blindness (compared to gender-awareness) are less likely to endorse gender stereotypes around women’s STEM competencies. By measuring (Study 1) and manipulating (Studies 2–5) gender-blindness, we show that gender-blindness (compared to awareness) minimizes the gender gap on explicit stereotyping measures, as well as diminishes STEM stereotyping in target evaluations. Across six studies, we show the influence of diversity ideologies on stereotyping of women in STEM.