Q and A with Carol Dweck

Including discussion of really fascinating work by philosopher Sarah-Jane Leslie:

The harder the science, the stronger the stereotype about women. A stereotype is kind of a fixed mindset label it says this skill is fixed and some people don’t have it. We have found in our research that when females buy into a fixed mindset about math and then they encounter stereotyping their grades and their sense that they belong in math suffers. Also, there is a steep decline in their intention to take math in the future. Now, these are the most prepared women in the country. They are at a top university. They have top SAT scores.

There is some stunning research by Andrei Cimpian [of the University of Illinois] and Sarah-Jane Leslie [of Princeton]. They assessed the mindsets of the different STEM disciplines. They gave surveys to professors and graduate students across the country asking them whether they believed that success in their field came from sheer brain power that couldn’t be taught or by dedication, passion, hard work over long periods of time. They found a startlingly high correlation between the fixed mindset of the field and the representation of women. [In other words, fields of study where the “gift” mindset was prevalent, like computer science and engineering, attracted fewer women than fields where the “growth” mindset held more sway.]

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