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Chapter 6

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3300
Carol Anne Hendry

Psychology of Gender – PSYC*3300 – Chapter 6:Achievement - Although women have made huge strides in educational achievement, women and men continue to pursue different fields - Women are more likely than men to receive bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and nursing; men are more likely than women to receive degrees in computer science and engineering Individual Difference Factors: The Achievement Motive - Achievement motive: a stable personality characteristic that reflects the tendency to strive for success - Mentions of success, striving, challenge, and accomplishment reflect themes of achievement - People who scored high in achievement motivation were found to persist longer at tasks and to reach higher levels of achievement o Typically was found in men o This isn’t really legit though - When women have a high need for achievement but believe achievement conflicts with their gender role, they conceal their achievement (ex. by telling peers they did worse on a test then they actually did; might adopt extremely feminine appearance and behaviour to compensate for high achievement; or might master both the higher achiever role and the traditional female wife/mother role) Fear of Achievement - In the early 1970s, one explanation of why women did not reach high levels of achievement was that they suffered from a fear of success because the characteristics attributed to success were not consistent with the female gender role - Fear of success: the association of negative consequences with achievement - Two requirement for a fear of success o 1) the person must perceive achievement as possible o 2) the person must associate achievement with negative consequences - Study: female students told “Anne is at the top of her class in medical school” and male students were told “John is at the top of his class in medical school” o Students were then asked to complete the story o 90% of males wrote positive stories in response o 65% of women wrote troubled stories about how Anne purposely didn’t perform well the next semester and dropped out, or about how she was alienated by friends and family and was very unhappy o Kept studying this 6 years and noticed that men began to increase in fear of success – they started to write stories that associated male achievement with selfishness and egoism o The fear of success was associated with distinct negative consequences for women and men o For men, the major consequence was self-absorption and for women it was social rejection o Also found that high fear of success women performed worse on a task when they were working with men in comparison to working with women o Turns out both men and women write more negative stories aboutAnne rather than John - Today, these tests are conducted and have found that women score higher than men on items that ask if they associate success with negative consequences - Bell held weekly discussions with elementary school girls and found that they felt achievement and affiliation were opposites and that one could not do both o This is referred to as the “smart versus social” dilemma o They feared that achievement would jeopardize their relationships - Some studies show that high levels of achievement have negative consequences for girls’ self-image o Study: achievement in math and science predicted an increased social self-image from 6 to 7 grade for both boys and girls, but an increase in social self-image th th from 7 to 8 grade for boys only o Girls’social self-image improved most if they received B’s in math rather than C’s or evenA’s - Women are also switching out of traditionally masculine roles into more feminine ones. Why?: o 1) women desired a job with greater flexibility o 2) women were unhappy with the high time demands of jobs in traditionally masculine fields o 3) women had low intrinsic interest in the value of physical sciences Self-Confidence - Girls do better than boys in school but are more worried than boys about their grades - Women are more likely than men to underestimate their abilities and less likely to expect success - Women are not less self-confident than men on all tasks - The nature of the task is an important determinant in self-confidence - Studies show that women are less self-confident on masculine tasks - Might be the case that women only appear less self-confident than men because they are concerned about how their superior performance will affect another person’s self-esteem o Study: women recalled lower grades than they received, but men recalled their grades accurately Response to Evaluative Feedback - Women might be more influenced than men by the feedback they receive from others about their performance - Study: college students asked to give a speech to a group of 3 other students who were confederates of the experimenter o One provided positive feedback, the other negative feedback, the other no feedback o Prior to feedback, women reported higher performance expectancies than men o Women’s evaluations of their speech were more affected by the feedback than those of men o Women’s evaluations of their speech became more positive in the positive feedback condition and more negative in the negative feedback condition o Men’s evaluations were less affected by the feedback Self-Esteem - Girl’s self-esteem lower than boys, typically - Black girl’s self-esteem is less likely than White girl’s self-esteem to decline over adolescence - Girls place a greater value on popularity than boys do - Being concerned with how others view oneself leads to a fragile self-esteem - Study: girls’self-esteem was positively correlated with the quality of their other-sex relationships but not the quality of their same-sex relationships o Boys’self-esteem was unrelated to both - No sex differences in academic or social self-esteem - Women are less satisfied with their bodies compared to men all throughout life - Age-related declines in body satisfaction are stronger in women compared to men - Masculinity or agency is strongly positively related to self-esteem - Femininity or communion (social aspects) is not related to one’s overall self-regard but might be related to components of self-esteem Stereotype Threat - Stereotype threat suggests that the salience of stereotypes might have a negative impact on women’s performance - Activating the stereotype might increase the pressure on women during performance - Study: women performed worse than men when the stereotype was explicit on a visual- spatial skills test (i.e. students told that men perform better than women) and when the stereotype was implicit (i.e. no information was provided) o Only when the stereotype was nullified (i.e. students told that women and men perform the same on the task) was performance the same for women and men - Men are not insensitive to this - Study: when female and male college students completed a social sensitivity test that involved decoding nonverbal cues, men performed more poorly than women when told the test measured social sensitivity but performed the same as women when told the test measured information processing - Researchers wanted to find out how stereotype threat affects performance o Stereotype threat provokes anxiety, or it reduces their capacity to pay attention, which reduces performance o Study: college women who identified with math and thought it was important to them, did a math test while a brain scanner watched brain activity. In one condition, they were told there are sex differences in math ability (stereotype threat) and in the other they were told there were no differences (control).  In the control condition, solving the problems activated the part of the brain associated with math calculations  In the stereotype condition, that brain region was not activated, rather the areas related to processing emotions were instead Conceptions of the Self - Might be due to the way men and women define themselves - Men maintain and independent sense of self that is separate from others – independent self-construal - Women maintain and interdependent sense of self in which others are integrated into the self – relational-interdependent self-construal - Men are more likely to describe themselves in terms of their independence from others and women are more likely to describe the
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