Lindsey Leker

Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Robert Stupnisky


Stereotype threat is a widely researched phenomenon shown to impact performance in testing and evaluation situations (Katz, Roberts, & Robinson, 1965; Steele & Aronson, 1995). When related to gender, stereotype threat can lead women to score lower than men on standardized math exams (Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999). Stereotype threat may be one reason women have lower enrollment in most science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, hold a smaller number of STEM careers than men, and have a higher attrition rate in STEM professions (Hill, Corbet, & Rose, 2010; Picho & Brown 2011; Sorby & Baartmans, 2000). Most research has investigated stereotype threat using experiments yielding mixed results (Stoet & Geary, 2012). Thus, there is a need to explore stereotype threat using quantitative surveys and qualitative methods to examine other contextual factors that contribute to gender difference in STEM fields. This dissertation outlined a mixed methods study designed to, first, qualitatively explore stereotype threat and contextual factors related to high achieving women in STEM fields, as well as women who have failed and/or avoided STEM fields. Then, the quantitative portion of the study used the themes from the qualitative phase to create a survey that measured stereotype threat and other contextual variables related to STEM success and failure/avoidance. Fifteen participants were interviewed for the qualitative phase of the study and six themes emerged. The quantitative survey was completed 242 undergraduate participants. T-tests, correlations, regressions, and mediation analyses were used to analyze the data. There were significant relationships between stereotype threat and STEM confidence, STEM anxiety, giving up in STEM, and STEM achievement. Overall, this mixed methods study advanced qualitative research on stereotype threat, developed a much-needed scale for the measurement of stereotype threat, and tested the developed scale.