Speaker Claude Steele to address racial and gender achievement

If you’re a white high school student, you are more likely to get a high score on the ACT than your Black, Latino, or Asian counterparts.

To address this and other racial achievement gaps and gender achievement gaps, award-winning social psychologist and author Claude M. Steele will be speaking on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m in the auditorium.

Steele is the author of the book Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do.  The book examines how stereotypes can influence performance and behavior, especially in schools. “All of the staff members of ETHS got copies of his book,” commented Principal Marcus Campbell.

Steele’s book looks at stereotype threat, which is the risk of confirming negative stereotypes about an individual’s racial, ethnic, gender, or cultural group. The ACT asks students to identify their race before the test, and Steele argues in his book that this is why Black, Latino, and Asian students may have lower scores than White students.

Sophomore Sam Blustein was disappointed to learn of this phenomena. “Students of color shouldn’t be affected in a negative way before they even take the test,” Blustein stated.

Junior Gabi Gomez agreed. “Black, Latino, and Asian students shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of stereotypes while taking the ACT.”

After Steele’s speech, audience members will have a chance to break out into small discussions planned by the volunteer organization Family Action Network (FAN).

“This is a real community conversation,” said Campbell, adding that 800 to 1,000 are expected to attend Steele’s talk.

Steele’s speech will provide an opportunity for the community to reflect on race and its impacts in our society. “I think that it’s good to keep the conversation going so that people won’t be afraid to talk about it,” explained Gomez. “There’s always more to talk about on the topic of race.”

Claude Steele
Claude Steele