Using Self-Affirmation to Persuade Male Engineers to Respect Female Engineers
Litt, Amrit, Kaur
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Women are underrepresented in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (STEM). Due to negative stereotypes, females in these fields are often treated with less respect from their male peers. In this study, we compared a “Gold-Standard” Contact intervention based on the best-known research-based evidence in prejudice reduction research to a Two-Step Persuasion intervention that affirms male engineers and then persuades them to respect women’s abilities in engineering, and compared these interventions to control conditions. This study tests which intervention (a) most effectively increases male engineers’ respect for their female peers and (b) can generalize this effect to other women. Both the Gold-Standard Contact and the Two-Step Persuasion intervention increased respect toward female peers with whom male participants had direct interactions. The Two-Step Persuasion intervention also increased respect toward another female engineer with whom they had less direct contact—a female engineering TA—as well as toward a new female they had never met, compared to the contact-based intervention and the control condition. These findings suggest that our Two-Step Persuasion intervention may best generalize male engineers’ increased respect toward female peers whom they had direct interactions to other women. These findings suggest that changing men’s respect for women can be an effective strategy to create a stereotype-safe social environment. Although future investigation is warranted, the current study is a promising first step in developing this intervention.