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Science Possible Selves and the Desire to be a Scientist: Mindsets, Gender Bias, and Confidence during Early Adolescence

Wonch Hill, Patricia and McQuillan, Julia and Talbert, Eli and Spiegel, Amy and Gauthier, G. and Diamond, Judy (2017) Science Possible Selves and the Desire to be a Scientist: Mindsets, Gender Bias, and Confidence during Early Adolescence. Social Sciences, 6 (2). ISSN 2076-0760

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In the United States, gender gaps in science interest widen during the middle school years. Recent research on adults shows that gender gaps in some academic fields are associated with mindsets about ability and gender-science biases. In a sample of 529 students in a U.S. middle school, we assess how explicit boy-science bias, science confidence, science possible self (belief in being able to become a scientist), and desire to be a scientist vary by gender. Guided by theories and prior research, we use a series of multivariate logistic regression models to examine the relationships between mindsets about ability and these variables. We control for self-reported science grades, social capital, and race/ethnic minority status. Results show that seeing academic ability as innate (“fixed mindsets”) is associated with boy-science bias, and that younger girls have less boy-science bias than older girls. Fixed mindsets and boy-science bias are both negatively associated with a science possible self; science confidence is positively associated with a science possible self. In the final model, high science confident and having a science possible self are positively associated with a desire to be a scientist. Facilitating growth mindsets and countering boy-science bias in middle school may be fruitful interventions for widening participation in science careers.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wonch Hill, Patricia
McQuillan, Julia
Talbert, Eli
Spiegel, Amy
Gauthier, G.
Diamond, Judy
Date: 31 May 2017
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Social Sciences
Volume: 6
Number: 2
Publisher: MDPI AG
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.3390/socsci6020055
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Psychology in Education
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescence, bias, gender, identity, mindsets, science, science careers
ISSN: 2076-0760
Official URL:
Funders: “Biology of Human” project funded by the National Institutes of Health through the Science Education Partnership Award Grant
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2021 17:20
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2021 17:20


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