Victoria Plaut, Professor

Closed (1) Mitigating the Double Bind in Computer Science: A Sociocultural Narrative Intervention

Applications for Fall 2017 are now closed for this project.

This project concerns disparities in education and tech. Dominant stories exist about who is a computer scientist and who is not; however, girls of color do not figure as protagonists of these stories despite the fact that many are involved in science. Additionally, society has historically made it difficult for girls of color to embrace multiple identities simultaneously (Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008), such as their self-concept as girls of color and as scientists. This project involves a social psychological intervention for increasing the participation of girls of color in computer science and STEM more generally. The researchers partnered with a STEM summer program for kids of color that has succeeded in increasing computer science engagement but with lower rates among female alumni of the program. The intervention implemented within the program uses personal storytelling to alter the structural realities, cultural narratives and psychological processes of girls of color in order to reduce this gender gap. The intervention combines research on value affirmation (Cohen et al., 2006), cultural narrative (Thompson, 2014) and ambient belonging (Cheryan, Plaut, Davies, & Steele, 2009). Encompassing this research, the intervention encourages girls to engage in dynamic discussion integrating science and culture, and allows them to create objects that will be used to signal belonging within STEM and computer science domains. Effects of the intervention on engagement, belonging, and performance will be examined. This project has applications for education, business (e.g., tech), and social science.


As part of a research team undergraduate research apprentices will gain experience coding and transcribing qualitative data, working with data entry and analysis techniques, as well as insight into study design and relevant literature. Apprentices will also participate in project meetings, and may also take part in other activities within the Culture, Diversity, and Intergroup Relations lab, which is located in the Berkeley School of Law.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Celina Romano and Kyneshawau Hurd, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Undergraduate research apprentices are expected to have excellent skills in organization and time management, be detail-oriented, reliable, and able to work well with others. Commitment to the lab for more than one semester is desirable. A number of majors and programs are particularly relevant to this study (e.g., Psychology, Education, African American Studies, Chicana/o Studies); however, we will consider and encourage applications from any major. Time commitment per week is approximately 9-12 hours but can be negotiated.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/culture-diversity-intergroup-relations-lab/
Related website: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/our-faculty/faculty-profiles/victoria-plaut/