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Female Role Models Shape Ph.D. Students' Attitudes on Academic Success

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female lecturer in college classroom

Students who value diversity actively seek female role models.

Credit: Getty Images

A study in PLOS One examines how students' exposure to female academic role models shapes students' attitudes toward their own academic success. Though focused on political science, the authors say that their findings translate to other fields.

When the researchers adjusted the share of female authors on a syllabus from 10 percent to 30 percent, female graduate students' self-efficacy, meaning their perceived likelihood of succeeding in the hypothetical course, was not affected. Male students, meanwhile, showed lower self-efficacy.

In a second experiment, the authors found that students with more academic role models had a higher sense of self-efficacy.

"Our results ultimately suggest that exposure to female role models relates in surprising ways to Ph.D. students' self-efficacy," says the study, "Having Female Role Models Correlates with PhD Students' Attitudes Toward Their Own Academic Success." "Having more female role models correlates with greater expectations of academic success among certain groups of students, but with diminished expectations of academic success among other groups."

From Inside Higher Ed
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