Diversifying Science: Intervention Programs Moderate the Effect of Stereotype Threat on Motivation and Career Choice

Stereotypes influence academic interests, performance, and ultimately career goals. The long-standing National Institutes of Health Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) training program has been shown to be effective at retaining underrepresented minorities in science. We argue that programs such as RISE may alter the experience and impact of stereotype threat on academic achievement goals and future engagement in a scientific career. We report analyses of a national sample comparing RISE students with a propensity score-matched control group over a 6-year period. Mediation analyses revealed that while RISE program membership did not buffer students from stereotype threat, it changed students' downstream responses and ultimately their academic outcomes. Nonprogram students were less likely than RISE students to persist in the sciences, partially because feelings of stereotype threat diminished their adoption of mastery goals. We discuss how these findings inform stereotype threat and goal orientation theories and provide insight into the success of intervention programs.