Girls getting played: Video game stereotype effects on gendered career perceptions

Joseph Fordham, Kuo-Ting Huang, Corrie Strayer and Rabindra Ratan


The continued desire for more graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) fields has resulted in a number of educators proclaiming video games as the next step in motivating students towards these careers. While the popularity of games with children lead many to believe that games may be the key to driving girls toward STEM careers, the negativity surrounding the "girl gamer" stereotype may actually continue to drive females away. The present study investigates the effect of stereotype threat on female video game players and how this effect impacts the perception of gender and overall appeal towards both gaming and STEM fields of study. A 2 (gender of opponent: male or female) x 2 (article type: stereotype threat or non-threatening) experiment found that game-related stereotype threat caused participants to rate STEM careers as more suitable for males but actually did show an increase in the appeal of certain STEM careers such as Computer Science. These results suggest a connection between perceptions of gender in video games and STEM which must be understood and addressed in regards to motivating more females toward STEM careers.