Side Effects of Role MOdel interventioN (SERMON)

Project holder : 

Research team : 

  • Cristina Aelenei (LPS, Université Paris Cité)
  • Thomas Breda (CNRS,Ecole d'Economie de Paris)
  • Andrei Cimpian (NYU)
  • Joseph Cimpian (NYU)
  • Lola Girerd (ATER, LSP, Université Paris Cité)
  • Laurent Sovet (LAPEA, Université Paris Cité) 

Project description : 

SERMON aims to empirically test the assumption that role model interventions promote beliefs likely to justify the gender hierarchy.

In an attempt to reduce the persisting gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), education policies promote role models—that is, exposing female students to successful women scientists. Recent reviews and meta-analyses of lab and field studies, however, show mixed evidence of the effectiveness of this tool for boosting students’ interest in STEM. Moving beyond the focus on students’ motivational outcomes, the present project aims to examine the possibility that role model interventions reinforce hierarchy-enhancing beliefs. We propose that role models may reduce gendered occupational beliefs, while, at the same time, reinforcing the stereotype that most girls and women lack ambition. Additionally, because they highlight the extraordinary success of a handful of people, role model interventions have the potential to reinforce the belief that social mobility is strictly merit based, ultimately justifying the existing social hierarchies. The project will be conducted with both French and US participant samples and will benefit from the contributions of social psychology, philosophy, and economics to provide a critical approach to role model interventions.

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