Jan. 27, 2011 at 8:17 PM ET
Well, we suppose this is one way to lower the curve in a tough calculus class. A new study shows that women scored lower in math when men gave them quick-but-creepy once overs, reports LiveScience. A psychologist at the University of Nebraska instructed research assistants to given women an unsettling up-and-down assessment, and then stare at their breasts for a few uncomfortable seconds. From the LiveScience story:
The research assistants then gave the real volunteers a five-question interview, ostensibly as part of the teamwork exercise. In some cases, the assistant started the interview by gazing from the volunteer's head to waist and back again, and then stared at the volunteer's chest for a few seconds between some questions.
Studies have shown that when you remind people of a stereotype about their group — "Girls are bad at math" — their performance at that task actually does drop because of their anxiety over the stereotype. This phenomenon, called stereotype threat, likely played a role in the lowered math scores, Gervais said. The women who got the objectifying look were aware of it on some level, as they reported that their partner was more preoccupied with their looks than the women who weren't ogled.