The push to promote more “feminine” role models for the science, technology, engineering, and math fields may backfire with middle school girls, says a newpublished in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
University of Michigan psychology researchers conducted a series of experiments in which 6th and 7th grade girls read articles about three successful female university students. In some cases, the hypothetical students were overtly “girly,” wearing pink clothes and makeup, for instance; in others, they wore dark clothes and glasses.
The researchers found girls who read about the overtly female role models reported lower interest and perceived ability and future expectations in math, and were less interested in taking math classes later on than girls who read about the other role models.
A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2012 edition of Education Week as Girls and STEM