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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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PST2C25:

Gender Differences in Psychological Factors and Interventions to Address Them
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 6:00 PM -6:45 PM
  Author: Lauren Kost-Smith, University of Colorado at Boulder
630-212-1864, Lauren.Kost@colorado.edu
  Co-Author(s): Steven J. Pollock , Noah D. Finkelstein
  Abstract: Despite males and females being equally represented at the college level in several STEM disciplines (biology, chemistry, mathematics), females continue to be under-represented in physics. Our research attempts to understand and address this gender gap by focusing on introductory physics courses. We characterize gender differences in performance, psychological factors, and retention that exist in Physics 1 and 2 [1,2]. We find gender differences in performance can largely be accounted for by differences in the physics and mathematics backgrounds and incoming attitudes and beliefs of males and females. But these background factors do not completely account for the gender gaps. We hypothesize, based on gender differences in self-efficacy, that identity threat is playing a role in our courses. Working with researchers in psychology, we implemented an identity threat intervention in three offerings of Physics 1 [3]. We report on the effectiveness of the intervention to alleviate gender gaps in performance.
  Footnotes: [1] L. E. Kost, S. J. Pollock & N. D. Finkelstein, PRST-PER, 5, 010101. [2] L. E. Kost-Smith, S. J. Pollock & N. D. Finkelstein, PRST-PER, 6, 020112. [3] A. Miyake, et al., Science, 330, 1234.
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