Initial Publication Date: June 8, 2017

What is Solo Status?

Solo status is the experience of being the only member of one's particular community present in a group. For example, being the only Asian American in a class of white students or being the only female in a group of men would be situations where solo status can come into play. The awareness of being the sole member of one's group is burdensome and has detrimental effects on performance but it doesn't depend on a stereotype being activated. It has the potential to disrupt normal cognitive functioning and compromise learning and performance on assignments.

For example, in spheres that have traditionally been male dominated, women may be evaluated more negatively simply because of their lower representation. Their scarcity results in higher visibility within the group and unfair performance pressure on them. They may also be perceived to have been allowed in simply because of their gender rather than because they meet a set of selection criteria. When women become aware of this perception it can have all sorts of negative emotional consequences. The prevalence of these negative perceptions seems to decrease as the ratio of women to men increases and solo status itself appears cease to be relevant once the solo population reaches about one third of the overall group.