Dilemmas of Inequality Lecture Series - Aneeta Rattan

Dec 5 2016 -
5:30pm to 6:45pm

Aneeta Rattan, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School

“Meta-Lay Theories: Perceptions that Drive Women and Minorities’ Sense of Belonging in Industries with Underrepresentation”



Women and minorities’ underrepresentation in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce is a persistent challenge. In this talk, I introduce the construct of meta-lay theories and investigate it as a predictor of women and minorities’ sense of belonging to STEM. Meta-lay theories are people’s perceptions of others’ beliefs or lay theories about ability. I theorize that in contexts of persistent underrepresentation, women and minorities’ perceptions of industry gatekeepers’ lay theories about intellectual potential in science drive their sense of belonging, which in turn influences performance and pursuit. I propose that meta-lay theories of science intellectual potential have the power to undercut concerns about stereotyping. Across studies, I conceptualize faculty as key industry gatekeepers in academic contexts and present correlational, field, and experimental data from novice (undergraduate) and expert (STEM majors, Ph.D. candidates) populations to show that meta-lay theories of STEM intellectual potential influence women and minorities’ sense of belonging. Together, these studies identify beneficial versus detrimental meta-lay theories and also point to key opportunities for intervention by industry gatekeepers, insofar as they want to promote women and minorities’ sense of belonging in domains in which they are underrepresented. 


Refreshments served at 5 p.m.