Stereotype threat: Women Not Confident enough to “Role” with the Boys

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Previous studies have acknowledged that even though the representation of women in the workforce has increased, there is a persistent problem of women facing the glass ceiling in their career advancement (Chrisholm-Burns, Spivey, Hagemann, and Josephson 2017). Studies have analyzed how top executives are biased towards women when considering them for a promotion due to their gender (Auster and Prasad 2016). From the 91 surveys conducted, it was apparent that many women begin facing stereotype threat very early in their careers without noticing. It has been revealed that women continuously doubt their own potential, starting in the classroom setting and later in their careers in the boardroom. Does the issue of low self-expectations from women continue to exist within classrooms as well as with women who have already pursued their careers, not only in the United States but internationally? A set of surveys were conducted in undergraduate upper-level business courses to gather an understanding of students’ feelings of career development and expectations, and a series of interviews were also conducted with professional business women in order to compare their experiences and expectations with undergraduate students’ feelings. My perspective will offer insight from a cross-national and multi-generational standpoint. This is important because business majors are amongst the most popular degrees, and if students continue to face stereotype threat this potentially harms their career decisions. This research determines that male and female business students have doubted their abilities in the classroom, but the amount of women represented in the classroom is still less than men. The interviews also show similar themes of women misrepresentation in leadership and gender bias for promotions. There is no doubt that society has improved many factors for women, but my research project has taught me that women still need to be encouraged to take leadership roles.


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