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Based on research by Meyer, Meredith, Cimpian, Andrei, and Leslie, Sarah-Jane (2015) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS.
Women Ph.Ds. out number men in many academic fields today, yet why is there still a gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields?
People tend to think these fields require brilliance, but stereotypes of women traditionally depict women with less brainpower than men. Psychology researchers wanted to find out what factors relate to cultural ideas of not associating women with brilliance, because boys and girls are measured equally intelligent. They asked, “What beliefs could impact career choices and predict female representation in courses of study?”
Over 300 volunteers completed online surveys. Researchers compared individuals who had college exposure to a field with a non-college group. Participants with college exposure were more likely to understand the level of math and verbal skills required. Results indicate that the proportion of female Ph.D.’s in that field may be influenced by the women’s beliefs about the amount of solitary work and competition required in these fields.
To narrow the gender gap and encourage women to enter these male-dominated careers, the authors recommend making an effort to emphasize the long-term collaborative efforts and effects of practice required to achieve in these fields over being just brilliant.
Meyer, M., Cimpian, A., & Leslie, S-J. (2015). Women are underrepresented in fields where success is believed to require brilliance. Front. Psychol. 6:235. .doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00235