- Stereotype threat, the fear of failing in a way that reinforces derogatory stereotypes of one's social group, undermines performance in school, sports and the workplace.
- Recently researchers have developed a more sophisticated understanding of how such anxiety arises, how to combat it and how to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
- Relatively simple and brief confidence-boosting exercises shrink academic achievement gaps. Educators are now scaling up these interventions to statewide programs.
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Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned science communicator, earned his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Columbia University in 1991. About 4,000 astrophysicists resided in the country at the time. Tyson brought the total number of African-Americans among them to a paltry seven. In a convocation address, he spoke openly about the challenges he faced:
“In the perception of society ... my academic failures are expected and my academic successes are attributed to others,” Tyson said. “To spend most of my life fighting these attitudes levies an emotional tax that is a form of intellectual emasculation. It is a tax that I would not wish upon my enemies.”
This article was originally published with the title Armor against Prejudice.