Understanding the Consequences of Incompetence on the Visibility of Ethnic Minorities in STEM
The present research examines barriers Black women may face when entering fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (i.e., STEM). For example, recent research found that Black women are often forgotten by others because of their non-prototypical group memberships (i.e., intersectional invisibility). Furthermore, previous research using the “Who Said What” paradigm has found that people are more likely to misattribute statements made by Black women to other White men, White women, and Black men. Following this paradigm, the present research sought to determine if invisibility would no longer occur among Black women if they demonstrated incompetence through minor mistakes. It was hypothesized that after a mistake was committed, Black women would become hypervisbile and that this increase in visibility would negatively affect participants’ perceptions of Black women’s success in STEM. Results from the current research determined that there was no support for invisibility or hypervisibility. Instead, results suggested that participants were more likely to misattribute statements about Black targets to White targets; however, this only occurred when targets made mistakes. Overall the results suggest a strong concern for participants to appear nonprejudiced and an unwillingness to attribute mistakes to Black targets. The findings have interesting implications for critical evaluations between ethnic groups.