Facilitating Women’s Success in Business: Interrupting the Process of Stereotype Threat Through Affirmation of Personal Values

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Two field experiments examined if and how values affirmations can ameliorate stereotype threat-induced gender performance gaps in an international competitive business environment. Based on self-affirmation theory (Steele, 1988), we predicted that writing about personal values unrelated to the perceived threat would attenuate the gender performance gap. Study 1 found that an online assignment to write about one’s personal values (but not a similar writing assignment including organizational values) closed the gender gap in course grades by 89.0% among 423 Masters of Business Administration students (MBAs) at an international business school. Study 2 replicated this effect among 396 MBAs in a different cohort with random assignment and tested 3 related mediators (self-efficacy, self-doubt, and self-criticism). Personal values reflection (but not reflecting on values including those of the organization or writing about others’ values) reduced the gender gap by 66.5%, and there was a significant indirect effect through reduced self-doubt. These findings show that a brief personal values writing exercise can dramatically improve women’s performance in competitive environments where they are negatively stereotyped. The results also demonstrate that stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) can occur within a largely non-American population with work experience and that affirming one’s core personal values (without organizational values) can ameliorate the threat.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles