What is stereotype threat and what can be done to reverse its effects and close the achievement gap between groups? Experts on stereotype threat—Graduate School of Education Dean Claude Steele and Professors Geoffrey Cohen and Greg Walton—tackled those questions in front of a packed audience at the 79th annual Cubberley Lecture at Cubberley Auditorium on May 10.
Stereotype threat is the experience of anxiety in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about his or her social group. In school, stereotype threat can cause underrepresented students to perform below their potential. It can cause them to focus less on learning and more on the worrisome prospect of performing poorly. The sting of stereotype threat can be felt by anyone – male or female, black or white, Asian or Latino,young or old. But when the threat is chronic, it can contribute to enduring patterns of inequality in school and beyond. What can be done to reverse the effects of stereotype threat? Through a multimedia presentation, social psychologists, Steele, Cohen, and Walton illuminated the experience of stereotype threat and highlighted the powerful ways we can diminish it and close the achievement gap between groups.