Women’s adaptation to STEM domains promotes resilience and a lesser reliance on heuristic thinking
di Bella, Laura
Experiences that compel people to challenge social stereotypes can promote enhanced cognitive flexibility on a range of judgmental domains. Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields are chronically exposed to such experiences and may therefore also demonstrate these benefits. Two studies examined the differential effects of counterstereotypical experiences on women from STEM and non-STEM fields. Results showed that imagining or recollecting these experiences led women from STEM fields to exhibit a lesser reliance on heuristic thinking compared to women from non-STEM fields, and this difference was mediated by self-perceived resilience to the negative impact of gender stereotyping. Implications for psychologists’ and educators’ understanding of the relationship between counterstereotypical experiences and heuristic thinking are discussed.