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Sapna Cheryan

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Professional Bio:

Dr. Cheryan arrived at the University of Washington as an assistant professor of social psychology in the fall of 2007. She completed her PhD in psychology at Stanford and her undergraduate degree in psychology and American studies at Northwestern.

Over the past several decades, our society has recognized the increased value of diversity in institutions, companies, academic fields, and in our country’s population as a whole. However, efforts to attract historically underrepresented groups have not been equally successful across various domains. Why have some groups been more successful than others in recruiting historically underrepresented groups? My research examines the role group stereotypes play in dissuading individuals from entering a field. More specifically, I examine how stereotypes of computer science majors are a significant factor in turning women away from majoring in computer science. Once historically underrepresented individuals join the groups, what is their everyday experience? My second line of research examines the strategies that individuals use when their group memberships are questioned or doubted because they do not resemble the others in their group. Some of these strategies include displaying attributes that are characteristic of the group and distancing from a threatening outgroup identity. This research has been conducted on a variety of groups, including Asian Americans and female engineers. In general, my research is concerned with developing and testing theories that illuminate current social problems, particularly inequality and prejudice, in the hopes of bringing attention to these problems and working towards feasible solutions.


Transforming Engineering Through PEERS: Building a Better Experience for Underrepresented Students




University of Washington

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