Examining the effectiveness of brief interventions to strengthen a positive implicit relation between women and STEM across two timepoints

Lynn Farrell*, Finiki Nearchou, Louise McHugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


The current study assessed the impact of three brief interventions aimed at influencing implicit gender bias in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. The reduction of this bias is a key consideration as it remains a major barrier to gender equality in STEM. The interventions (psychoeducation, exposure to positive counter-stereotypical exemplars and perspective-taking) were compared to a control group at two timepoints. Gender-STEM bias was assessed at the implicit level (via the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure; IRAP) and the explicit level (via rating scales). Two hundred and ten adults (58.1% women) completed one of the four study conditions. Results indicated that implicit gender-STEM bias is malleable, at least in the short term. At Time 1, intervention groups showed higher levels of implicit pro-Women-STEM bias and lower levels of pro-Men-STEM bias than the Control group. Psychoeducation appeared most effective, followed by exposure to positive counter-stereotypical exemplars. Results from Time 2 presented a more complex picture of implicit bias change, as the control group exhibited an increased pro-Women-STEM bias that was unexpected. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to refining the interventions, the malleability of gender-STEM bias and the measurement of implicit bias across contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1231
Number of pages29
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank all of the participants who volunteered their time for this study. The first author was supported by a Government of Ireland Scholarship from the Irish Research Council (Grant No. GOIPG/2016/699). The development of the perspective-taking intervention was supported by UCD SEED funding (Grant No. SF1344) (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research Stream) awarded to the third author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Gender bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Implicit relational assessment procedure
  • Intervention
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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