Bronx HS of Science senior a Regeneron finalist

Isabella Greco was named one of 40 Regeneron Science Talent Search finalists for her impressive study examining the effect of gender stereotyping and stereotype inconsistency on false memories of occupation descriptions.
Photo courtesy of Isabella Greco

A Bronx High School of Science student has earned national recognition for her research project.

On Wednesday, January 4, Bronx High School of Science senior Isabella Greco was selected among 40 finalists for the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science and mathematics competition for her study, ‘The Effect of Gender Stereotype and Stereotype Inconsistency on False Memory of Occupation Descriptions’.

According to Regeneron, the finalists were selected based on their research project’s scientific rigor and world-changing potential.

Greco, a Concourse Village resident, researched gender stereotyping and careers with the guidance of Fordham University psychology professor Dr. Mitchell Rabinowitz.

With Dr. Rabinowitz’s assistance, she examined the impact gender association and gender stereotype inconsistency had on a person’s ability to precisely recall an individual’s occupation.

“I chose this topic because stereotypes are something that affect us all to such an extent that they have a sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle, impact on our everyday life,” expressed Greco.

She was inspired to learn how stereotyping influences people’s perceptions and the possible mechanics behind this influence.

Her extensive study was conducted over four to five months which included data collection, analysis and interpretation.

Greco had men and women complete a four part Mechanical Turk online survey for her research project.

The survey started with six short biographies detailing individuals in their occupation which varied in the gender association of the job and the employee.

A distraction task was implemented to test its impact on participants’ cognitive performances.

The participants then answered a series of questions testing their long-term memory to distinguish between true and false statements from the original biographies.

Finally, the test subjects answered a short set of questions asking about their own demographic information.

According to Greco, the study’s most major finding was that any job mostly associated with women such as a nurse had a higher rate of false memory compared to any job associated with men like an engineer.

These results were the same whether the person holding the ‘feminine’ occupation was a man or woman.

“You would hope there wouldn’t be any biases discovered, but if there were you would expect them from men,” said Dr. Rabinowitz. “However, from this study it seems implicit bias is just as prevalent among women.”

Implicit bias refers to attitudes or stereotypes affecting people’s understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner.

These pervasive and malleable associations held in the subconscious cause people to have feelings or attitudes about others based on such characteristics as race, ethnicity, gender, age and appearance.

This March, Greco and her fellow Regeneron finalists will visit Washington, D.C. to present their research, meet National Geographic Society scientists and undergo final judging.

She will also vie for one of the top ten awards ranging from $40,000 to $250,000 for the first place prize.

The top winners will be announced at a formal awards gala on Tuesday, March 14 inside the National Building Museum.

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