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See Inside Scientific American Volume 308, Issue 6

Psychologists Find New Ways to Steel Minority Students against Fear of Failure

Even subtle reminders of prejudice against one's sex, race or religion can hinder performance in school, work and athletics. Researchers have found new ways to reverse and prevent this effect

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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.”

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