It's All about Me

Combating Stereotype Threat through Self-Improvement

Posted by 'Tine Zekis on May 25, 2015 · 3 mins read

Assignment: Cultural Blog | Values

In last week's cultural blog post, we discussed Stereotype Threat and its potential to ... One potential tool for battling Stereotype Threat is to encourage self-affirmation in those at risk. So, as we approach the on-site portion of the Dev Bootcamp program, we have been asked to engage in a self-affirmation activity related to exploring our values.

After sifting through an extensive list of values and ranking their importance in my own life, I have decided to focus on personal growth/development. For the last five and a half years, I have made an explicit effort to keep this value at the forefront of my mind and to have it guide my day-to-day actions and long-term life goals. Along with some close friends, I have defined what kind of "grown-up" I want to be. It is not an end goal, but rather a life-long journey of self improvement. Each year, we make year-long goals that will help us to move forward along this journey. And each month, we get together to review the previous month, re-examine our year-long goals, and create goals for the upcoming month. This has given me a sense of accountability to make sure that I am always working actively on improving myself.

People have often asked me about my weight loss secret, as I have lost almost 30 pounds in the last year and a half. They are usually quite disappointed when I say that I did it with hard work: changing my eating and exercise habits a little bit at a time. They usually want to hear that I took some pill or joined some program that made it easy, and fast. It's not fast. When I lose weight fast, I gain it even faster. This last one has been a mission to lose weight slowly, intentionally. My goal is to lose 20 pounds each year for 3 years. And each month, I evaluate how I'm doing and what small, attainable changes I can make. I found that I can take this approach in almost everything I do.

I can definitely see myself using this value as a combatant to Stereotype Threat. The thought that as a black woman, I might not be as good as others at coding is ridiculous to me. Since I am constantly working to improve myself, I have records of an incredible list of accomplishments. I know that, while in the real world, it may seem like I am in competition with others, the only competition I truly value is that with myself. And I am just trying to be a better me today than I was yesterday. That much, I can do.