Can the Growth Mindset Encourage Girls to Pursue “Male” Careers?

(1) Charles J Colgan High School, Manassas, Virginia, (2) Louise A. Benton Middle School, Manassas, Virginia
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Despite major advances in gender equality, men still far outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions. The purpose of this project was to determine whether mindset could affect a student’s future career choices and whether this effect differed based on gender. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, while a fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens. We hypothesized that girls with a growth mindset would be more likely to consider pursuing careers typically chosen by males, in the future, compared to girls with a fixed mindset. Using the Dweck mindset quiz, each subject was assigned either a growth or fixed mindset. Subjects were then shown gendered, workplace pictures and asked to identify careers they would like to pursue Males picked more potential careers, in general, compared to females (7 vs. 5, out of 10 options). When looking within the gender groups, 86% of females who had a growth mindset were likely to consider a “male” career, whereas only 16% of females with fixed mindset would likely to consider a “male” career. Especially for girls, cultivating a growth mindset may be a great strategy to address the problem of fewer girls picking STEM careers. The more we believe we can, the more we can accomplish!

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