Whistling Vivaldi

whistling vivaldi Since I heard about research showing that girls who self-identified as female before taking a math test tended to under-perform (compared to when they self-identified after taking the test) I’ve been wondering where else that effect is.

Specifically, if you are always surrounded by guys, does that continually remind you? Does it affect your performance there?

Whistling Vivaldi (Amazon) is a book about stereotype threat. It covers: simple words that will cause women and blacks to underperform in math and intelligence tests, and, correspondingly, the phrasing that removed that difference. Other depressing findings – that being in a position of fighting that stereotype puts people under physical stress. Long term, obviously this has a negative effect on people’s health. It’s a fascinating, but depressing, insight into how the stereotypes, so pervasive in the West, affect us.

Personally, I’m encouraged by anything you can measure, and so this book is encouraging in that respect. It’s also fantastically written, engaging and enjoyable to read. It’s order follows how the research happened, and so the reader really understands how the different aspects of the research built upon one another.

Really, a must-read for anyone who worries about women and minorities, and for those who don’t, but should (educators, managers in industry, academics – I’m looking at you).


5 Thoughts

  1. Grant Hutchison says:

    Another good read that addresses inequities in CS education is “Stuck in the Shallow End” by Jane Margolis. The research studies impacted events in California to ensure access to CS education is made available in more schools.


  2. Sacha Chua says:

    Thanks for the book recommendation! Checked it out, read it, dogeared pages, and will post my thoughts shortly. I love practical psychology books – lots of useful ideas.

    One of my current projects involves a five-person team, all women. Critical mass rocks. =)

  3. […] me, it was a reminder about the takeaway I got from Whistling Vivaldi – that whilst women have it bad, they are not the only minority (or the smallest!), and our […]

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