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Skidmore College

Skidmore scientist receives American Psychological Association award

January 14, 2021
by James Helicke

Corinne Moss-Racusin, associate professor of psychology at Skidmore College, has been awarded the 2021 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology for her innovative research on gender-based discrimination.  

Corinne Moss-RacusinMoss-Racusin is the only known recipient in the history of this prestigious award to be affiliated with a liberal arts college rather than a major research institution. Awarded to just a handful of researchers each year, the prize honors early-career scientists for exceptional work conducted in the first decade following completion of their doctorate.  

Professor Moss-Racusin, who leads the Social Cognition and Intergroup Dynamics Lab at Skidmore, received the prize for her work in the area of social psychology. Her cross-disciplinary research considers ways that stereotypes lead to biased perceptions of individuals and the backlash that both men and women encounter when they violate gender stereotypes. She also uses insights from her research to develop and implement evidence-based interventions to overcome persistent gender biases.

“I’m honored to be recognized by the leading professional organization in my field,” she said. “One of the major things I try to do in my work is to see how we can use the tools of science — the robustness of the scientific method and experimentation — to tackle really thorny social problems, including gender bias.” 

“My hope is that my research will help our society to understand and overcome the persistent biases and stereotypes that contribute to occupational gender segregation and allow everyone to do the work that they’re most excited about, without being constrained by stereotypic expectations about what is expected for someone of their gender identity."

I am also extremely proud to be able to conduct this work in partnership with talented Skidmore undergraduates, who are among the next generation of rising psychological scientists.
Corinne Moss-Racusin
Associate Professor of Psychology

Moss-Racusin completed her doctorate in social psychology at Rutgers University in 2011 and was a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University from 2011 to 2013.  

Since joining the Skidmore faculty in 2013, she has received grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Smithsonian Institution, among other organizations, for research focusing on the impact of gender bias in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.  

Her work has appeared in leading scientific journals, including Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 
Her widely cited paper “Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was the first study to demonstrate and quantify the biases that women reported experiencing in STEM fields by showing how gender stereotypes were skewing perceptions of similarly qualified male and female candidates for a STEM position.  

“I'm really proud of how that work has contributed to conversations within the STEM community about social justice issues and thinking about what attention needs to be paid to mentoring programs, policies and interventions that can reduce biases and remove obstacles to women's full participation in critical fields,” she said.  

In addition to work with fellow faculty specializing in education, biology, organizational behavior and other branches of psychology, Moss-Racusin has collaborated extensively with undergraduate students — a hallmark of a Skidmore education — to expand her earlier research. The research culminated in the article “Gender bias produces gender gaps in STEM engagement” published in the journal Sex Roles.

“We demonstrate that when women learn about the reality of gender bias in STEM, that also causes them to disengage from those fields by undermining their enthusiasm, sense of belonging and their aspiration to work in STEM,” she said. Another recent study demonstrates similar consequences for men in fields that have traditionally been dominated by women.

Her work is also regularly covered by the media, receiving coverage from The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “ABC World News,” The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and other outlets. She discussed some of her research in the feature-length documentary “Picture a Scientist,” an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film, and was invited to present her research at the White House in 2014.

The award will be announced in the scholarly organization’s publication APA Monitor in March. Moss-Racusin will also be recognized at an awards events tentatively scheduled to coincide with the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting in August.  

“Professor Moss-Racusin's pathbreaking research and her strong commitment to the education of undergraduate students in the classroom and through collaborative research experiences exemplify the teacher-scholar model that is at the heart of Skidmore’s liberal arts mission,” said Michael T. Orr, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs at Skidmore College. “Our College community is very proud of this well-deserved recognition for Professor Moss-Racusin and her efforts to address gender biases in STEM fields and to build a more inclusive society for all.”

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