Stereotype threat is the experience of anxiety in a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about his or her social group. In school, stereotype threat can cause underrepresented students to perform below their potential. It can cause them to focus less on learning and more on the worrisome prospect of performing poorly.
The sting of stereotype threat can be felt by anyone: male or female, black or white, Asian or Latino, young or old. But when the threat is chronic, it can contribute to enduring patterns of inequality in school and beyond.
What can be done to reverse the effects of stereotype threat?
Claude Steele, social psychologist and dean for the School of Education at Stanford University, illuminates the experience of stereotype threat and highlights the powerful ways we can diminish it and close the achievement gap between groups.