Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Jessica Beer

Second Advisor

Robert (Bob) Padgett

Third Advisor

India R. Johnson


White women are heavily underrepresented within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, increasing their likelihood of experiencing social identity threat. Exposure to a successful scientist can potentially serve as an identity-safety cue and buffer against identity-safety threat. We investigated whether a professor with a marginalized identity (i.e., race or gender minority) would serve as an effective identity-safety cue among White female participants. That is, participants viewed either a Black man, Black woman, White woman, or White man professor in a hypothetical STEM school, and reported their anticipated trust, belonging, and interest. We found that when exposed to the Black professors, participants reported greater feelings of trust and belonging compared to the White professors. Results also demonstrated that participants reported greater interest in working with the professor outside the classroom after reading the woman professor profiles relative to the man professor profiles. Consistent with our predictions, the Black woman profile was the most effective cue for promoting interest. Taken together the results of the investigation, we found initial evidence that both Black women and men scientists are beneficial for promoting identity-safety for White women in STEM.