Nilanjana Dasgupta, a social psychologist and professor at UMass Amherst, discussed her studies on the constraints women face in their pursuit of academic and professional careers, specifically in fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Dasgupta explained several longitudinal and semester-long studies she performed on females in engineering and math courses to examine the factors that influence their achievement and confidence in the subject.
Dasgupta’s findings reveal several strong influences that positively affect female students’ success and confidence in STEM fields, including increased contact with female professors, mentorship between advanced peers and beginning students of the same sex, balanced groups for team-based projects and the increase in recognition of successful females in technical fields.
She compares exposure to peers in one’s own group as a “vaccine” to build confidence and combat insecurity. Dasgupta says the findings hold true for people of color, immigrants and first-generation college students as well.
This lecture was recorded on April 19, 2016 in Hasbrouck Hall at UMass Amherst.