The Use of Personal Testimonials to Enhance Gender Bias Literacy in STEM
thesisposted on 05.08.2020, 13:35 by Devin Elise Jewell
Previous research has provided promising evidence for the effectiveness of video interventions to raise awareness of the gender bias that exists in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. However, creating these beneficial video interventions can be costly and its possible that the success of these interventions may be hindered if a certain amount of resources are not invested into their creation (e.g., into high quality actors). Therefore, the current study expands on this research by investigating the use of personal testimonials of women’s experiences with gender bias in STEM as gender bias interventions. More specifically, I examined whether certain characteristics (e.g., genuineness) of the testimonial’s communicator would influence the relevant gender bias outcome (e.g., awareness of bias and sexism). I predicted that watching a woman genuinely talking about her experiences with bias, relative to a scripted re-telling of this story, would lead to better perceptions of the woman (e.g., more positive perceptions and perceptions of genuineness), greater feelings of empathy and connection with the woman, as well as less greater awareness of gender bias and less sexism from participants. To test this possibility, participants in the study were randomly assigned to interact with one of four story formats, a genuine telling of the woman’s experiences with bias, a scripted re-telling of these experiences, a written version of the story, or a unrelated control video. After interacting with the story participants then completed measures related to perceptions of the woman and gender bias. The findings of the study were limited, possibly due to a lack of power, but were encouraging as they were in the expected direction. The implications of the findings as well as future research ideas to expand and improve on these findings are discussed.