The 21st century has brought with it unparalleled levels of diversity in the classroom and the workforce. It is w common to see in elementary school, high school, and university classrooms, t to mention boardrooms and factory floors, a mixture of ethnicities, races, genders, and religious affiliations. But these changes in academic and ecomic opportunities have t directly translated into an elimination of group disparities in academic performance, career opportunities, and levels of advancement. Standard explanations for these disparities, which are vehemently debated in the scientific community and popular press, range from the view that women and mirities are genetically endowed with inferior abilities to the view that members of these demographic groups are products of environments that frustrate the development of the skills needed for success. Although these explanations differ along a continuum of nature vs. nurture, they share in common a presumption that a large chunk of our population lacks the potential to achieve academic and career success. In contrast to intractable factors like biology or upbringing, the research summarized in this book suggests that factors in one's immediate situation play a critical yet underappreciated role in temporarily suppressing the intellectual performance of women and mirities, creating an illusion of group differences in ability. Research conducted over the course of the last fifteen years suggests the mere existence of cultural stereotypes that assert the intellectual inferiority of these groups creates a threatening intellectual environment for stigmatized individuals - a climate where anything they say or do is interpreted through the lens of low expectations. This stereotype threat can ultimately interfere with intellectual functioning and academic engagement, setting the stage for later differences in educational attainment, career choice, and job advancement.
Michael Inzlicht was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. He is proud to be the first in his extended family to obtain a college degree, a bachelor of science in Anatomical Sciences from McGill University. Michael credits McGill with shaping his current identity, values, and orientation. He received his MS and PhD from Brown University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University. In 2004, he moved back to Canada and spent a short time at Wilfrid Laurier University, before taking his current position at the University of Toronto, where he studies prejudice, self-control, and religion, often using the modern tools of neuroscience. Toni Schmader grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. She first became interested in group differences in academic performance when she read Jonathon Kozol's books on social inequality in high school. She received her BA in Psychology from Washington and Jefferson College and her PhD in Social Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She served on the faculty at the University of Arizona for ten years and is currently the Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia, where she continues to publish research aimed at understanding and mitigating social inequality.