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  • [NO AUDIO]

  • CATHY L. DRENNAN: So welcome everybody.

  • I hope you're really excited about this semester coming

  • up, and getting involved with teaching.

  • So I am Professor Cathy Drennan, a professor

  • here at MIT in the Chemistry and Biology Department.

  • And I want to start today--

  • so this workshop is about stereotype, stereotype threat,

  • wise criticism, unconscious bias.

  • And I want to start, because you're going to be teachers,

  • with telling you about my motivation

  • for doing this training.

  • I think she's a chemist.

  • Why is she standing up here telling us about this?

  • So as teachers, it's good to tell your students

  • about your motivation.

  • So what is my motivation?

  • Well, my motivation was-- this a story from a number of years

  • ago, and I was asked to attend a workshop happening

  • at Harvard on increasing diversity in the sciences.

  • And so when you went to register for this workshop

  • they gave you a homework assignment.

  • I thought that was interesting.

  • So my homework assignment was to go to the chemistry department

  • and interview all the undergraduates that

  • were members of underrepresented minority groups.

  • And I discovered at the time, this was a number of years ago,

  • there were two, and both of these students

  • had transferred very recently to other departments.

  • So that was not the best indication,

  • but the students were very interested in talking to me.

  • And I said, I want to hear about your experience.

  • I want to think about what the department could do better.

  • Again, this is an issue from the past.

  • Things are a lot better right now.

  • So I met with these students, and one in particular

  • was just really engaged with me.

  • They're like, yes, I want to help you figure out

  • what's going on, and talking about their experience,

  • and thought a lot about what could have been different.

  • And finally, came up with this thing,

  • and he said, I never had a TA that believed in me.

  • And I just thought--

  • I was not expecting that response.

  • Because I'd been working with TAs at that

  • point for quite some time.

  • And the TAs were really wonderful.

  • They were engaged and excited.

  • And I just thought, somehow the TAs--

  • there had been this disconnect.

  • And I said, well, what did the TAs say to you?

  • What happened?

  • And he thought about it and tried

  • to come up with an example, and then realized,

  • it wasn't what they said, it was what they didn't say.

  • And that just stuck with me.

  • And I thought, his TAs probably had no idea

  • that he was feeling this way.

  • Here was this kid sitting in the classroom thinking,

  • no one believes that I can do chemistry,

  • and no one else was thinking that but him, probably.

  • So I said, we need to talk about this.

  • We need to talk about how we can all

  • have classrooms where everyone can reach their full potential.

  • So that's what this training is about today.

  • We're going to start this discussion, how

  • do we create classrooms where everyone can reach

  • their full potential, where no one's worried, sitting in there

  • really worried, about what someone

  • might be thinking about them.

  • So again, as a teacher, what I'd like to do starting out

  • is give you the take home message.

  • I like to give you the take-home message,

  • tell you what I'm going to tell you,

  • tell you the thing I'm going to tell you,

  • and then tell you what I taught you.

  • So there's a little bit of teacher training mixed in

  • with this workshop as well.

  • All right, so take-home message.

  • So the take-home message is that understanding stereotype

  • threat and wise criticism is essential for being

  • a good mentor, supervisor, and teacher,

  • and helps with being a good human being, I think, as well.

  • So that's the message.

  • And you might think, OK, I'm buying in,

  • but I have no idea what you're talking about with stereotype

  • threat.

  • So let's go there first.

  • All right.

  • So let's look at some definitions.

  • First, let's look at stereotype.

  • So stereotype is a prevalent belief about a specific type

  • of individuals or a way of doing things,

  • which may or may not reflect reality.

  • So most people can think of stereotypes.

  • Stereotypes can be positive or negative.

  • Most people think of negative stereotypes,

  • but actually they can be positive.

  • So an example of a positive stereotype

  • is that MIT students are smart.

  • I've been here almost 20 years, MIT students are smart.

  • That's a positive stereotype.

  • Stereotypes can be based in truth.

  • That is pretty true that MIT students are smart.

  • What about a negative stereotype?

  • What is an example of a negative stereotype?

  • Yes?

  • AUDIENCE: So most people see that jocks

  • are dumb or not so bright.

  • So that's an example of negative stereotype.

  • CATHY L. DRENNAN: Yes, and in my experience, that's not true.

  • There are a lot of very athletic people--

  • something that some people don't know about MIT

  • is that most people participate in sports here.

  • So yeah, so a negative one.

  • Again, they can be positive, they can be negative,

  • they can be largely true, or not so true.

  • I also want to introduce the idea of unconscious bias,

  • because people are talking a lot about this.

  • And actually, when I started this training,

  • no one was talking about this term, and now it's the term.

  • So let's talk about that.

  • So it's defined as social stereotypes

  • about certain groups that individuals form outside

  • of their conscious awareness.

  • So in other words, they don't know that they

  • hold these stereotypes.

  • Unconscious bias.

  • And I think people like this term

  • because it's takes the pressure off.

  • I didn't know I have it, therefore, I'm not responsible.

  • It's all good.

  • But today, we're really getting in there,

  • and I feel like I've been doing this training for a while,

  • so I've become acutely aware of just how

  • many stereotypes I have.

  • So this is not about, oh, if it were true, freeing ourselves

  • of these things.

  • No.

  • It's about making ourselves aware that we have them,

  • and acting in such a way that we can counter the harm of it.

  • All right.

  • So stereotype threat is the perceived risk

  • of confirming a negative stereotype.

  • So say, as a female driver you do something stupid,

  • and have a whole bunch of men honking at you.

  • Right?

  • You're like, oh, I didn't want to let the world--

  • you feel pressure of doing everything perfectly,

  • because you don't want to play into the negative idea there.

  • All right.

  • So that's what stereotype threat is.

  • And I think stereotype threat is still a good term for it,

  • because unconscious bias threat doesn't really work.

  • OK, so we're back to stereotypes.

  • All right.

  • So what are we going to talk about today?

  • So we're going to talk more about these terms.

  • We're going to talk about the fact

  • that stereotype threat can lead to underperformance.

  • So I'm going to show you data to support this idea.

  • We're going to talk about the fact

  • that stereotype threat can lead to the idea

  • that you're being judged unfairly.

  • Sometimes you might be judged unfairly,

  • and sometimes you're not being judged unfairly,

  • but stereotype threat can lead to that feeling

  • whether or not it's true.

  • Everyone can be a victim of stereotype threat,

  • and everyone has stereotypes.

  • So it affects all of us.

  • We all hold stereotypes, we all can be

  • victims of stereotype threat.

  • This training is really for everyone in the room.

  • And I have to say, this is not just about gender,

  • it's not just about race.

  • It's about anything that might make us feel different,

  • anything that might make us feel under a microscope.

  • If we're different in any way from the others around us,

  • this can affect everybody.

  • So it's for everyone.

  • This is the bad news.

  • What about the good news?

  • There's always good news.

  • There's wise criticism.

  • So this has been shown to alleviate the negative aspects

  • of stereotype threat.

  • So what is it?

  • So wise criticism is criticism where you explicitly

  • let somebody know that they are capable,

  • or you believe they're capable, of a higher

  • level of achievement.

  • And there is data to suggest this goes a long way.

  • Again, if you can create this environment of trust,

  • if the individuals in your classroom

  • feel that you believe in them, you can criticize them--

  • I mean, this is important in Mentoring Lab.

  • Criticism is how we learn.

  • When we don't do well, we learn from that.

  • It's all healthy and good.

  • But we have to make sure that any criticism is delivered

  • in such a way that the person recognizes

  • that we believe in them.

  • Again, back to the student who never had a TA--

  • we need everyone to know that we believe that the person is

  • able to do the work.

  • And so, that is one way to mitigate the negative effects.

  • All right.

  • So I don't know if I told you this ahead of time,

  • but this is an interactive training.

  • So we want everyone to participate,

  • and think about how this has affected me or someone I know.

  • So what we're going to do in a minute

  • is you're going to pair share.

  • Find a group of two or three, and turn to your neighbor

  • and recall a time when you might have

  • felt judged by some superficial characteristic.

  • So it could be age, it could be anything.

  • So think about that or--

  • and maybe and/or, you can do both--

  • you are worried about confirming a negative stereotype.

  • So that's the assignment.

  • Think about it a little bit.

  • You'll talk to your neighbor.

  • I'll give you about five minutes or so.

  • And then we'll come back in a group,

  • and hopefully some of you will feel comfortable

  • sharing your experiences with a larger group,

  • and we can talk about it.

  • All right.

  • So let's take a few minutes, find someone, share a story.

  • AUDIENCE: So do you guys have any experiences like that?

  • AUDIENCE: Yeah, so I guess one of mine

  • that I started being really aware of when I started

  • grad school was that I was really worried about being

  • taken seriously as a scientist, if I had a meaningful hobbies

  • outside of work.

  • AUDIENCE: So I guess for me, when I came to MIT,

  • I was really scared by the fact that there were

  • few people that looked like me.

  • And so, that put like a lot of pressure on me,

  • and I felt that I had to carry a whole race on my back.

  • And also, I can remember one meeting

  • that I had with one of the professors,

  • and she was telling me that, I know

  • that you come from a small college,

  • and that your classmates are going

  • to be from Berkeley and Harvard, and so it might be

  • right for you at the beginning.

  • And I feel that really, really impacted

  • how I performed in some of my classes,

  • and I wish that I had never had that conversation.

  • So, yeah.

  • AUDIENCE: Yeah, being from a smaller school was harder.

  • I was also from a smaller school,

  • and in classes I was always thinking--