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Interactive workshop to discuss stereotype threat, offer strategies for success


Women talk over food Nov. 2018 during the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology's stereotype threat workshop. Photo courtesy of Kayleigh Nicole Dance

IU students and staff will discuss the idea of stereotype threat, what it means and strategies to overcome it Wednesday during a workshop put on by the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology.

“Stereotype Threat: How It Affects Your Performance and What You Can Do About It” aims to make students aware of the concern that you are confirming negative stereotypes about your social identity group in order to know how to diminish its effects. 

Dorainne Green, a postdoctoral fellow in psychological and brain sciences at IU, has led the interactive workshop before and will lead it again Wednesday for CEWiT.

She said she will talk about why stereotype threat leads to poor performance, environmental cues that trigger it and different strategies to overcome it.

One common gender stereotype is the link between women and low math performance, Green said.

“If you’re taking an exam, instead of focusing on the exam and the answers, you’re worried that if you perform poorly you might be confirming this negative stereotype,” she said. “So it directs attention away from doing the math test and doing it well because you’re anxious or distracted.”

The workshop is part of a series put on by CEWiT called the Empowerment Lunch and Learn Series, which discusses issues women in tech may face, said Michelle Bartley-Taylor, assistant director for student engagement at CEWiT.

Past Empowerment Series workshops included discussions about microaggressions, imposter syndrome, body image and gender equality.

Green said many people experience stereotype threat but don’t realize it until they discuss their real-life experiences with their peers.

“It’s important for college students to be able to identify this phenomenon because they might be impacted by it even if they don’t know,” she said.

IU grad student Olateju Ajagbe recently moved to the United States from Nigeria for her graduate program. She said she wants to attend the workshop in order to know what to look out for in a work environment and prepare herself.

“I just want to get perspective to learn more about where I am right now and how I can make the best of my situation,” she said.

Ajagbe said she hopes the skills learned in the workshop will help her in both the school and workplace settings as she completes an internship in the summer.

“It’s a learning experience,” she said. “You need to learn how to get out there and use the resources available to you, which is what I’m trying to do.”

The workshop will take place 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Indiana Memorial Union. It is closed for registration.

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