Gender Stigmatization in the Stem Community

Schneider (2012) describes a community as membership, influence, integration & fulfillment of needs and a shared emotional connection. These components need not be restricted by geographical boarders, but can be applied to communities such as the community that will be discussed in this posting: The Stem Community. Stem stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and makes up a wide sector of schools and jobs in the United States. The Stem community is facing serious prejudice and stigmatization in regards to male and female members of the community. Women are not as encouraged to be members of the Stem community due to being stigmatized as being different from the Stem community’s master status of having male-like qualities.

Respect for social diversity is a prime element of studying and participating in social psychology (Schneider, 2012). Part of the social psychology field is dedicated to understanding the stigmatization that occurs throughout communities in order to ignite social change. Social change in necessary in the Stem community in order to increase diversity in this field and “avoid adopting a standard of normal” (Schneider, 2012). Stigmatization means to label a group of persons as being flawed or different from the master status. In the Stem community this is very prevalent and was recently studied by L. Carli (2016) and posted in Psychology of Women Quarterly. The studies analyzed male and female perceptions of those working in the Stem field: “…despite significant progress made, women are still thought to lack the qualities needed to be successful scientists, and the findings suggest this may contribute to discrimination and prejudice against women in those fields” (Carli, 2016).

This is a serious problem in the Stem community because males are given the master status over females. This stigmatization often leads females to be discouraged or uninspired to enter science and mathematical fields. In fact, despite making up 47% of the total work force, women only make up “low shares in engineering (13%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%)” (NGCP.Org). Carli’s (2016) research further demonstrated that male and female participants held views that deemed males as holding the master status in Stem fields; whereas, females were stigmatized for being flawed or not possessing the necessary qualities to be regarded as important members of the Stem community: “These data suggest that the challenges women face as potential scientists may go beyond the perception that science is a poor match with women’s communal goals or that more scientists are men [and] not women” (Carli, 2016). Hopefully, knowledge of this issue in the Stem community will prompt social change and increase diversity in the Stem fields.



Carli, L. (2016, March 28). New study finds we still perceive women to be incompatible with STEM. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from


National Girls Collaborative Project. (2012). Statistics. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from


Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology:Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks,California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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