ESS Newsletter: June 2020

Welcome from ESS Director

Welcome to the Spring 2020 installment of the Engendering Success in STEM Newsletter. As always, we are excited to share several updates about the activities and accomplishments of the ESS Consortium, its members, and its partners. But we are also living and working through unprecedented times given the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. In addition to summarizing what we have been working on over the past six months, we also want to take an opportunity to provide an update about how our research teams and a few of our partners are flexibly adapting the work they do under current and foreseeable circumstances. Personally, I’ve been inspired by all the great work members of our teams have done and are planning to carry out under these difficult circumstances. We hope that you and yours are remaining safe.

    Toni Schmader

  Project CLIMB

The Project CLIMB team has been hard at work collecting data for several projects. In one study, we began examining the emergence and development of children’s science gender stereotypes. While recent studies have started to detail children’s emerging math stereotypes, we recognize less is understood about whether children’s developing math and science concepts lead to different gender specific stereotypes.


Often in developmental research researchers use stimuli depicting children. Similarly, social psychological research with adults often uses images of adults for stimuli. In some cases these decisions stem from the belief that age matched exemplars might represent the typical cases individuals think about. We recognize that in the context of measuring gender stereotypes about math and science that the particular stereotype might be sensitive to the age of the target. That is, we might expect that the type of stimuli we use to represent gender (images of children or images of adults) might activate different beliefs in this stereotyped domain depending on whether the stereotype is represented as a particular gender (e.g., females) or as a subgroup of a gender (e.g., Women). In consideration of this possibility, we recognize the importance of understanding how the nature of these gender stereotypes change with age (without necessarily being influenced by the stimuli choices). To begin to address this question, in another project initiated this year we began investigating whether our measurement of math gender stereotypes is impacted by whether the targets of those stereotypes are of children or of adults. This study is being conducted both with children and adult participants.


Data collection with children is temporarily on hold until we move child testing protocols online in response to Covid-19. We have already shifted our adult testing online, in part with the help of one of our research partners, Cloud Army, and expect to finish that data collection this summer in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Steele’s lab at York University.  We anticipate child testing to resume in the next month, also on the Cloud Army platform.


In other work, particularly while our main research site, Science World, is temporarily closed, we are working diligently on several manuscripts including new submissions and revisions to manuscripts under review. In one of these papers we demonstrate that children’s math-gender stereotypes can be changed following a brief exposure to counter-stereotypical exemplars. Interestingly, we show that it is possible to both increase and decrease children’s gender-math stereotypes among primary school-aged children. In other work, we have a paper under revision detailing a novel methodology for measuring implicit associations in pre-school aged children. Another paper on the malleability of implicit bias is also under revision and a new manuscript on the developmental emergence of stereotype threat effects in the domain of gender and math will be submitted this summer.

  Project PRISM

Project PRISM continues to connect with it partners at Science A!ive (Simon Fraser University), Geering Up (University of British Columbia) and Engineering Science Quest (University of Waterloo). Unfortunately, COVID-19 has interrupted our plans for another summer of data collection, as all of these summer camp programs have been cancelled or moved to online delivery. However, we have continued to work with our partners to prepare summaries of our previous research and develop materials that will assist in knowledge translation and create opportunities to share your existing results with a broader audience. In addition, we are continuing consultations around possibilities for training and other future collaborations.  


In addition, we have begun the process of preparing our intervention research for application in school settings. Critical to this process, we have completed a successful search for a new postdoctoral researcher.  Dr. Rotem Kahalon, currently working as postdoctoral researcher at the School of Psychological Science, at Tel Aviv University, will join the team at Simon Fraser University in the Fall. Dr. Kahalon will work with the other members of our team to refine and expand our current interventions for both boys and girls for implementation in middle and high schools in both Toronto and Vancouver. Of course, the current uncertainty that faces all educational settings will pose new challenges as we seek to build new collaborations with schools.  Obviously, we will know much more about what exactly these challenges will be as schools begin to reopen in the fall.


In addition, the members of the PRISM team have been engaged in presenting our research findings are academic conferences and in public lectures. We are also preparing documents to disseminate our initial findings to a variety of audiences – with two academic manuscripts, a manual describing ways partners can implement our interventions, and several White Papers currently in preparation. In addition, the members of the team have been involved in a variety of other research projects that cover a wide range of topics connected to the broader ESS mandate. As we wait to find out exactly when and how we will be able to reengage our research and intervention work with children, we will continue to move forward on these many important projects. 

  Project SINC

Project SINC has been busy making progress on four projects over the past few months. First, we are continuing work on our daily-log study to examine whether positive social interactions will help STEM co-op students feel supported and positively challenged in their work. We are continuing our collaboration with McMaster University for this project. We have also established a collaboration with the Centre for the Advancement of Co-operative Education at the University of Waterloo (WatCACE) and had to postpone to the spring co-op term due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Collecting data during the Covid-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to explore experiences among co-op students within the context of insecurity and crisis. Therefore, we will examine the coping strategies that co-op students are currently using to manage stress and uncertainty, the effectiveness of these strategies, and explore whether women in STEM face unique barriers to effective coping during the Covid-19 pandemic. We also have a unique opportunity to explore how students experiencing the most uncertainty are coping during the pandemic. Therefore, we will recruit students who would have had a co-op placement but no longer do because of the pandemic.


In addition, we have been working on a project examining nonverbal behaviours in diverse groups. The decoding of nonverbal behaviour is a crucial aspect of communication during any social interaction; however, past research has lacked participant diversity, leaving researchers less certain about the role of social categorization when decoding nonverbal behaviours. To address this in the context of Engineering, a new project at the University of Toronto aims to uncover the influence of social category membership on the decoding of nonverbal behaviours by observing Engineering students working in diverse groups. Ultimately, this project will shed light on how social categories interact with nonverbal behaviours to influence perceptions of other group members as well as the impact of social categorization processes for the success of working Engineering students. This study has been postponed until the 2020 fall term due to pandemic-related research stoppages and will now be run online via video conferencing. Using the software Face Reader and Noldus ObserverXT, we will code nonverbal behaviours of the face and body, including those related to emotions, attitudes and motivations and personality.


We have also continued working toward publishing the focus group data we collected last year with University of Toronto Engineering students. In this project, we explored how engineering students’ conceptualization of engineering identity and their identification with engineering changes and shifts as they progress through university. We find that students come into university with identification with an academic and technical conceptualization of engineering, but receive an identity shock in the first semester of the program, where they encounter very difficult exams and coursework, and are no longer able to easily excel academically and technically. In response to this shock, we find that students cope through building a “culture of suffering” which buffers against this lack of belonging. We also find that students increase their identification with engineering by reconstructing engineering identity to reflect not only technical and academic success, but rather social aspects as well. This then increases their identification with engineering. We also discuss the implications of such a strong sense of community and culture on discussions around gender bias and discrimination (i.e., system justification-like responses).


Finally, in collaboration with some RISE team members, we are working on a project on teamwork at McMaster University. This study’s primary aim is to test the effects of a group work intervention on female students’: a) feelings of fit in the engineering program, b) physiological responses of challenge vs. threat during group work, and c) amount of information-sharing and respect among group members. This study is taking advantage of a 2-term natural intervention occurring at McMaster University beginning September 2020. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the changes made in this restructuring improve experiences for women in engineering. Assuming that at least some aspect of group work is completed online, this study’s secondary aim is to study teamwork dynamics a) online and b) in transition between online and in-person. We are interested in how online work environments impact the psychological phenomena above, however we are also interested in novel questions about online teamwork experiences.

  Project RISE

The past six months of Project RISE have primarily involved a continuation of data collection on the RISE Workshop Study.  As of April 30, 2020, we have completed data collection with nearly 300 STEM professionals who were randomly assigned to participate in either an Inclusive Innovation or Influential Leaders professional development workshop. Participants have completed measures prior to, during, and 2-4 weeks after the workshop. They have also completed a series of daily logs 6-10 weeks after the workshop and will next complete a 6 month follow-up survey. These workshops have been co-facilitated by members of the RISE team and WinSETT, and have only been possible with the dedication of several ESS organizations who have partnered with us on this project:  Teck Resources, the National Research Council, City of Vancouver, City of New Westminster, Port Moody, West Vancouver, and Metro Vancouver. We want to thank all of these partners for their cooperation and investment in this research.


Preliminary analysis of the workshop evaluations suggest that both women and men have an overall positive evaluation of both workshops, and see the inclusion workshop in particular as more effective than other similar workshops they have done. Not surprisingly, they generally see the leadership workshop as more beneficial for their personal leadership goals than for organizational diversity and inclusion goals, but more interestingly they view the inclusion content as helpful for both. The components of the two workshops all receive high ratings, with especially high marks on the delivery and evidence presented in the inclusive innovation workshop. These preliminary analyses of participants’ immediate reactions suggest that the workshops we have developed are seen as uniquely beneficial to our participants. We are looking forward to tracking the benefits over time in our more formal analyses. 


Our original study plan was to continue collecting data on this project for at least another year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to postpone three upcoming workshops and consider our alternatives. Given the uncertain timing for any future face-to-face workshops, our team has decided to make two modifications to our plan. First, we are currently preregistering our hypotheses with a plan to carry out analyses on our current dataset while we are prevented from collecting more data. Second, we will also design a version of the Inclusive Innovation workshop that could be tested virtually in a waiting list control design over the next 12-18 months while physical distancing policies might still be in effect. Third, after social distancing measures are more permanently relaxed, we will resume data collection in an in person RISE Workshop Study 2.0 that will benefit from any findings revealed in analyses of Study 1.0.


In addition, to the RISE Workshop project, members of our team are also continuing their work on other data collection, analysis, and written reports of data that have been collected with other samples both online and in person. Our team is hoping to submit 3-4 manuscripts for review in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information on these findings.

Partner Spotlight: Interview with Geering Up

Please tell us a little bit about Geering Up.

For 25 years Geering Up has created STEM outreach programs for families across BC.


With the current changes around social and physical distancing, how will this impact your regular camp programming? 
Normally, at this time of year we would travel to schools across BC to deliver hands-on engineering workshops. Instead, we have moved our programs online! We want to be there to help families and teachers implement online learning. Last Thursday we welcomed 50 student instructors who will develop and teach these online programs. Our offerings now include online homework clubs, Youtube live streams, and online pro-d training for teachers. We are learning as we go. So far, we have worked with 1,200 students and 100 teachers on these digital platforms. The format is different from anything we’ve done before but what hasn’t changed is our commitment to breaking down barriers to STEM.

How do Geering Up’s programs help to advance the goals of gender inclusion and diversity?

In all of our programs we try to create an accessible space for students to explore STEM. Our goal is to create a environment where every student can picture themselves in STEM fields. This informs every aspect of our program design including our hiring practices, training programs, promotional plans, and curriculum. Specific to gender inclusion, our programs create a space where young girls feel included and can see a future for themselves in STEM. We hold 50% of our seats for girls, we ensure there is equal gender representation among our staff, we provide staff training on gender equity in the classroom, and we review curriculum to ensure it connects engineering to a broad set of values. In addition to our co-ed offerings we host special all-girls programs to remove any barriers to participation.


As one of our key data collection partners, can you tell us about your involvement with Project PRISM?
Over the past two years we have been a host site for Project PRISM. Interventionists have worked with youth from our camps each week. We’ve learnt a lot from getting to work with this team. Personally, I love how it encourages our staff to reflect on the impact and purpose of their work. Being part of project PRISM has brought a great sense of mindfulness to what we do.

Select Talks and Presentations

Aday, A. E., Schmader, T., & Sedikides, C. (2020, March). How to Measure ‘Fit?’ Development and Validation of a Scale Measuring Types of Fit and Their Relation to State Authenticity. Twenty-first Annual Convention, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Shared Reality and Authenticity Preconference, New Orleans, LA.


Ballinger, J.T., Jiang, T., & Crocker, J. (2020, February). Understanding diversity backlash: The mediating role of zero-sum beliefs (ZSBs). Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.


Ballinger, J.T., & Crocker, J. (2020, April). Understanding diversity backlash: Lay theories about diversity trigger social identity threat among majority groups. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA) conference, Chicago, IL (Conference canceled).


Ballinger, J.T., Jiang, T., & Crocker, J. (2020, June). Lay theories about diversity drive diversity backlash. Poster presented at the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) conference, Denver, CO (Conference canceled).


Bergsieker, H. B. (2019, November). Implicit bias and inclusion. Invited presentation at German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.


Bergsieker, H. B., & Cyr, E. N. (2019, November). Promoting rising STEM motivation: Updates from a randomized control trial to boost gender equity in STEM. Invited talk presented at Summit of the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering in Hamilton, ON.


Bergsieker, H. B. (2019, November). Unconscious bias – unbewusste Vorurteile und wirkungsvolle Strategien ihnen entgegenzuwirken. Invited presentation at German Aerospace Center, Bonn, Germany.


Block, K., Schmader, T., Olsson, M., van Grootel, S., Martiny, S., Van Laar, C.(July, 2018). Put your money where your values are: Communion, gender, and the value of careers. Data-Blitz presented at the Meeting of Society of Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA. (presented by Lucy De Souza on KB’s behalf).


Cyr, E. N., Spencer, S. J., Wright, S., & Bergsieker, H. B. (2020, January). Reducing STEM stereotyping and improving girls’ fit in STEM. Talk at the Actua National Convention in Ottawa, ON.


Cyr, E.N., Pavicic, J., Bergsieker, H.B., Dennehy, T.C., Mahon, S., Wright. S., Spencer, S. (2020, February). Open to everyone: PRISM interventions reduce boys’ gender bias and improve girls’ anticipated fit in STEM. Poster presented at the Intervention Science Pre-conference at the 22nd Annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference in New Orleans, LA.


Cyr, E.N. & Bergsieker, H.B. (2020, February). Same-gender friendship networks strengthen boys’ (and stunt girls’) STEM trajectories. Poster presented at the 22nd Annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference in New Orleans, LA.


De Souza, L., & Schmader, T. (2020, February), What inhibits male allyship? Examining the influence of (mis)perceptions of other men’s beliefs. Data blitz and poster session presented at the 21th Annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology Convention Gender Preconference, New Orleans, Louisiana


Hall, W.M. Inclusive cultures: A sociocultural approach to inclusion. Colloquium at the University Guelph. (canceled due to covid)


Hall, W.M., Schmader, T.S., Inness, M., & Croft, E. (2020, February) Climate Change: Improving Norms for Inclusion Predicts Greater Fit for Women in STEM. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, Louisiana.


Hall, W.M., Schmader, T.S., Inness, M., & Croft, E. (2020, May) Climate Change: Improving Norms for Inclusion Predicts Greater Fit for Women in STEM. In G. Muragishi’s (chair), Leveraging Interpersonal Contexts to Address Gender Disparities in STEM. Symposium at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association,  Chicago, IL, USA. (canceled due to covid)


He, J. C., Kang, S. K. & Lacetera, N. (2020, February) Leaning in or not leaning out? Gender, choice architecture, and competition. In J. C. He & E. Kirgios (chairs), Diversity perceptions and decision-making are shaped by strategic motives. Symposium at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, Louisiana.


He, J. C., Kang, S. K. & Lacetera, N. (2020, April). Leaning in or not leaning out? Opt-out choice framing attenuates gender differences in the choice to compete. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Austin, Texas.(cancelled due to covid)


Hernanto, J., Dennehy, T. C., & Schmader, T. (2020, February). “That’s what she said”: Can amplifying women’s ideas impact the allocation of intellectual credit? Poster presented at the annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.


Kang, S. (2019, December), Gender Equality in Engineering: Why it Matters and How to Get There. Professional Engineers of Ontario 30X30 Task Force Meeting.


Kang, S. (2020, February), Creating Cultures of Inclusion, CEO Global Network’s 2020 Women’s Leadership Summit.


Kang, S. (2020, February), Deconstructing Occupational Stereotypes. Rotman Management Magazine’s “Creative Destruction” event.


Kang, S. (2020, March), Gender diversity and inclusion in STEM: Myths and Solutions”, A Symposium for International Women’s Day.


Schmader, T., (February 2020). Can implicit bias be tamed in the wild? In an invited symposium on Implicit Bias, Explicit Science at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Seattle, WA.


Schmader, T. (February 2020). Who cares? A socio-cultural view of the gender gap in communion. Invited talk at the UCLA Conference on Culture and Preference Formation, Los Angeles, CA.


Shum, P.L.C. & Wright, S.C. (2020, February). Communication behaviors of sexist and non-sexist men and women in cross-gender interactions. Presentation at Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.


Wright, S. C., Droogendyk, L., Lubensky, M. E. & Louis, W. R. (2019, June) Acting in solidarity: Social psychological challenges for advantaged group “allies”. Presentation at Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, San Diego, CA.


Wright, S. C. & Droogendyk, L., (2019, July). Acting in solidarity: Social psychological challenges for advantaged group “allies”. Presentation at International Society for Political Psychology, Lisbon, Portugal.