Profiles in persistence: A latent profile analysis of multilevel coping strategies enacted among women in the sciences

Written by: Mateo Cruz, Noémi Nagy
Published on: Mar 23, 2023

Woman in science
Photo credit: IRStone/Adobe Stock

This study examines the different ways women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) occupations cope with systemic stereotype threat. Although it is theorized that women in STEM engage multiple and simultaneous strategies in response to stereotype threat, rarely are coping strategies studied in combination. This leaves us with an incomplete picture of coping behavior. To address this gap, we adopt a person-centered approach to examine nine multilevel stereotype threat management strategies. Drawing from a sample of 515 women in male-dominated STEM occupations, we use latent profile analysis (LPA) to uncover three distinct profiles (PreservationistsProtectors, and Protagonists) which differ by degree of strategy engagement and preferred location of response (intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional). Our findings also show that profile membership is differently associated with person-related (gender centrality, science identity, and stigma consciousness) and work-related factors (perceived organizational support, negative emotions at work, and exit due to gender-based bias) relevant to persistence. This work demonstrates the value of a person-centered approach in distinguishing coping profiles within and between STEM women in a naturalistic context. It also suggests that organizations can better support STEM women by tailoring interventions that account for differences in coping behavior.

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