In this article, Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta shares her research on how female role models and peers can inoculate female STEM students against some of the factors that can push women out of STEM programs. She points to research showing that: 1) Female STEM teachers can act as female role models that enhance the positive attitudes women and girls hold towards STEM; 2) Reading success stories of female role models in STEM can have the same positive impact on female students; 3) Ideal female role models are easy to relate to and have success stories that feel achievable; 4) Peer mentors – regardless of gender – can boost self-confidence, performance expectations, and career aspirations of first year female college students; 5) Assigning female STEM students – especially beginning students – to work on teams that are at least half women can help female students feel less anxious, more confident, and more committed to a STEM career than women on a team that is over 50% male; and, 6) Timing is critical when it comes to these types of interventions. Research suggests that first-year female STEM students benefit more from female role models than women further along in their STEM studies. Dr. Dasgupta gives specific recommendations on how to put this research into practice in the STEM classroom in the full article.


Dasgupta, N. (2015). Role models and peers as a social vaccine to enhance women's self-concept in STEM. The American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved from

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