Psychology professor receives NSF grant to look at gender stereotypes in sciences

Sep 28, 2010 | Education, General News, Research and Development

Dr. Eric Deemer, assistant professor of psychology in Louisiana Tech University’s College of Education, has been awarded a $312,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to investigate the relationship between stereotype threat and achievement motivation among women in the science disciplines. “Women are often subjected by others to the stereotypical belief that they are incapable of being scientists,” said Deemer.  “This may be because, for instance, they are assumed to lack the mathematical ability needed to perform scientific tasks.” “It is thus possible that the absence or presence of stereotype threat cues in the laboratory classroom can determine the types of achievement goals women adopt, in turn leading to changes in scientific motivation.” According to Deemer’s study titled, “The Mediating Role of Stereotype Threat and Achievement Goals in the Regulation of Scientific Motivation,” maintaining and/or generating student interest in science is an ongoing challenge for educators.  These efforts have been particularly problematic with respect to women as they are severely underrepresented in STEM occupations. Deemer, along with co-investigator Dr. Jessi Smith of Montana State University, will study 2,500 college students enrolled in science laboratory classes at Louisiana Tech and Montana State.  They expect their results will form the basis for practical recommendations regarding pedagogical and career intervention strategies. The Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Louisiana Tech provides students with a background in both theoretical and applied psychology. Most faculty research interests center on cognitive, industrial/organizational, clinical/counseling, techniques and outcomes, personality, career issues and women’s issues focus areas. In addition to its undergraduate degree, the Department offers masters degrees in counseling and guidance and industrial/organizational psychology, and an APA accredited Ph.D. program in counseling psychology.