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Why don’t more women pursue STEM fields? There’s no easy answer

, | | February 21, 2018

Many academics in the modern world seem obsessed with the sex difference in engagement with science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) fields. Or rather they are obsessed with the fact that there are more men than women in some of these fields.

These interpretations are not surprising and they include sexism, stereotype threat, and more recently implicit bias and microaggression.

[W]omen are awarded 57 percent of undergraduate STEM degrees, but with substantial differences across fields. Women earn the majority of degrees in the life and social sciences but less than 20 percent of the degrees in computer science and engineering, sex differences that have held steady for several decades.

[C]ountries renowned for gender equality show some of the largest sex differences in interest in and pursuit of STEM degrees, which is not only inconsistent with an oppression narrative, it is positive evidence against it. Consider that Finland excels in gender equality…. Yet, Finland has one of the world’s largest sex differences in college degrees in STEM fields.

We believe that with economic development and advances in human rights, including gender equality, people are better able to pursue their individual interests and in doing so more basic sex differences are more fully expressed…. Men prefer occupations that involve working with things (e.g., engineering, mechanics) and abstract ideas (e.g., scientific theory) and women prefer working with and directly contributing to the wellbeing of others (e.g., physician, teacher).

[I]nterventions focused on [girls that are interested in mathematics over reading] (e.g., individual mentoring) holds much more promise for increasing the number of women in inorganic STEM professions than do currently vogue interventions that focus on purging the wider society of stereotypes, implicit bias, and microaggressions.

Editor’s note: David C. Geary studies sex differences and is a professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience at the University of Missouri. Gijsbert Stoet is a professor of Psychology in the School of Social Sciences at Leeds Beckett University (UK).

Read full, original post: Sex and STEM: Stubborn Facts and Stubborn Ideologies

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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