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Broad-access institutions play a democratizing role in American society, opening doors to many who might not otherwise pursue college. Yet these institutions struggle with persistence and completion. Do feelings of nonbelonging play a role, particularly for students from groups historically disadvantaged in higher education? Is belonging relevant to students’ persistence—even when they form the numerical majority, as at many broad-access institutions? We evaluated a randomized intervention aimed at bolstering first-year students’ sense of belonging at a broad-access university (N = 1,063). The intervention increased the likelihood that racial-ethnic minority and first-generation students maintained continuous enrollment over the next two academic years relative to multiple control groups. This two-year gain in persistence was mediated by greater feelings of social and academic fit one-year post-intervention. Results suggest that efforts to address belonging concerns at broad-access, majority-minority institutions can improve core academic outcomes for historically disadvantaged students at institutions designed to increase college accessibility.

Psychological theories often locate the problem of prejudice within people. However, prejudice stems from both people and places. Prejudiced contexts are places with predictable, systematic inequalities in experience and outcomes based on people’s social group memberships—advantaging people from some social groups, while disadvantaging people from others. The prejudice-in-places model illuminates sources of inequality that would otherwise be overlooked and suggests novel avenues for intervention. By understanding how norms, values, policies, practices, and procedures can create prejudiced places, leaders and policymakers can intentionally debias environments so that members of all social groups can flourish in educational and organizational settings.

An important goal of the scientific community is broadening the achievement and participation of racial minorities in STEM fields. Yet, professors’ beliefs about the fixedness of ability may be an unwitting and overlooked barrier for stigmatized students. Results from a longitudinal university-wide sample (150 STEM professors and more than 15,000 students) revealed that the racial achievement gaps in courses taught by more fixed mindset faculty were twice as large as the achievement gaps in courses taught by more growth mindset faculty. Course evaluations revealed that students were demotivated and had more negative experiences in classes taught by fixed (versus growth) mindset faculty. Faculty mindset beliefs predicted student achievement and motivation above and beyond any other faculty characteristic, including their gender, race/ethnicity, age, teaching experience, or tenure status. These findings suggest that faculty mindset beliefs have important implications for the classroom experiences and achievement of underrepresented minority students in STEM.

Pervasive cultural stereotypes associate brilliance with men, not women. Given these stereotypes, messages suggesting that a career requires brilliance may undermine women’s interest. Consistent with this hypothesis, linking success to brilliance lowered women’s (but not men’s) interest in a range of educational and professional opportunities introduced via hypothetical scenarios. It also led women more than men to expect that they would feel anxious and would not belong. These gender differences were explained in part by women’s perception that they are different from the typical person in these contexts. In sum, the present research reveals that certain messages—in particular, those suggesting that brilliance is essential to success—may contribute to the gender gaps that are present in many fields.

The studies outlined in this paper investigated (a) individual differences in Whites' awareness of their propensity to express subtly biased behavior against Blacks in interracial contexts (Study 1), (b) the convergent and discriminant validity of a new individual difference measure of bias awareness (Studies 1, 2, and 3), (c) whether this measure uniquely predicts Whites' responses to a difficult race-related context—receiving feedback that they are high in implicit bias from an Implicit Association Test (R-IAT; Study 2), and (d) whether this measure uniquely predicts Whites' perceptions of others' racial bias, particularly subtle expressions (Study 3). Results revealed that the Bias Awareness Scale measures a distinct construct that uniquely predicts Whites' emotional and behavioral responses to information about their own bias, and their ability to detect bias in others.

The extent to which socially-assigned and culturally mediated social identity affects health depends on contingencies of social identity that vary across and within populations in day-to-day life. These contingencies are structurally rooted and health damaging inasmuch as they activate physiological stress responses. They also have adverse effects on cognition and emotion, undermining self-confidence and diminishing academic performance. This impact reduces opportunities for social mobility, while ensuring those who "beat the odds" pay a physical price for their positive efforts. Recent applications of social identity theory toward closing racial, ethnic, and gender academic achievement gaps through changing features of educational settings, rather than individual students, have proved fruitful.

The researchers explicate an emergent framework, Jedi Public Health (JPH). JPH focuses on changing features of settings in everyday life, rather than individuals, to promote population health equity, a high priority, yet, elusive national public health objective. Policies and interventions to remove and replace discrediting cues in everyday settings hold promise for disrupting the repeated physiological stress process activation that fuels population health inequities with potentially wide application.

Over the past 20 years, a large body of laboratory and field research has shown that, when people perform in settings in which their group is negatively stereotyped, they may experience a phenomenon called stereotype threat that can undermine motivation and trust and cause underperformance. This review describes that research and places it into an organizational context. First, the researchers describe the processes by which stereotype threat can impair outcomes among people in the workplace. Next, they delineate the situational cues in organizational settings that can exacerbate stereotype threat, and explain how and why these cues affect stereotyped individuals. Finally, they discuss relatively simple empirically based strategies that organizations can implement to reduce stereotype threat and create conditions in which employees and applicants from all groups can succeed.

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Three studies explore how feelings of belonging among White students and stigmatized students of color influence their academic choices, goals, and performance. Drawing from an identity threat and stigma framework, we suggest that anticipated belonging influences all students when considering future-oriented decisions (e.g., choosing a college major; Study 1). However, because students of color are targeted by negative stereotypes that create uncertainty about their belonging in academic settings, actual feelings of belonging in school may be stronger predictors of these students’ academic outcomes. Consistent with this hypothesis, belonging in school predicted educational efficacy and ambitions of African American middle school students, but not of White students (Study 2). Further, feelings of belonging in the first weeks of college predicted second semester grades among stigmatized students of color, but not White students (Study 3). We suggest a more nuanced understanding of belonging is essential to creating supportive schools for everyone.

Over the past 20 years, a large body of laboratory and field research has shown that, when people perform in settings in which their group is negatively stereotyped, they may experience a phenomenon called stereotype threat that can undermine motivation and trust and cause underperformance. This review describes that research and places it into an organizational context. First, we describe the processes by which stereotype threat can impair outcomes among people in the workplace. Next, we delineate the situational cues in organizational settings that can exacerbate stereotype threat, and explain how and why these cues affect stereotyped individuals. Finally, we discuss relatively simple empirically based strategies that organizations can implement to reduce stereotype threat and create conditions in which employees and applicants from all groups can succeed.

This chapter presents evidence of social identity threat in the underrepresentation of women in STEM. When an identity is perceived to be devalued because of negative stereotypes or a history of bias or exclusion, people can experience social identity threat, the worry and uncertainty that they will be viewed in terms of their social group—and not as an individual. This threat can lead to deleterious consequences for how individuals view themselves, the situation, and their place within it. The authors highlight the environmental cues that trigger or diffuse social identity threat—knowledge that can be used to create more welcoming academic settings for all social groups.

This study examined the cues hypothesis, which holds that situational cues, such as a setting’s features and organization, can make individuals vulnerable to social identity threat. Measures of identity threat were collected from male and female math, science, and engineering (MSE) majors who watched an MSE conference video depicting either an unbalanced ratio of men to women or a balanced ratio. Women who viewed the unbalanced video exhibited more cognitive and physiological vigilance, and reported a lower sense of belonging and less desire to participate in the conference, than did women who viewed the gender-balanced video. Men were unaffected by this situational cue.

In this study, men and women viewed corporate mission statements and websites conveying that the organization espoused an entity (fixed) or incremental (malleable) theory. Results revealed that women—more so than men—trusted the entity company less than the incremental company. Furthermore, only women’s mistrust of the entity company was driven by their expectations about being stereotyped by its management. Notably, when combined with high or low representations of female employees, only these organizational lay theories predicted trust. People’s—particularly women’s—mistrust of the entity company led them to disengage more before interacting with a representative.

The authors examine how an organization’s fixed (entity) or malleable (incremental) theory of intelligence affects people’s inferences about what is valued, their self- and social judgments, and their behavioral decisions. The authors find that people systematically shift their self-presentations when motivated to join an entity or incremental organization. People present their “smarts” to the entity environment and their “motivation” to the incremental environment. They also show downstream consequences of these inferences for participants’ self-concepts and their hiring decisions.

The authors argue for a conceptualization of prejudice as something that people and contexts do, not just the type of person someone is. This interpretation shifts our view of prejudice from a static and fixed property of individuals to one that is active, dynamic and sourced from both people (e.g., their attitudes and beliefs) and the contexts that they inhabit. To fully understand the effect that people’s attitudes have on others, one must consider the contexts within which the actor and the target are embedded.

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