New Report on Women in STEM fields

Posted on April 05, 2010

Why so few?

A new study from the American Association of University Women considers why, at a time when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, there are still so few women in science and engineering. Drawing on a large and diverse body of research, this report gives compelling evidence that social and environmental factors contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. For instance, 30 years ago there were 13 boys for every girl who scored above 700 on the SAT math exam at age 13; today that ratio has shrunk to about 3:1. “While biological gender differences, yet to be well understood, may play a role,” write the authors, “they clearly are not the whole story.” Moreover, while the foundation for a STEM career is laid early in life, research in the report demonstrates that small improvements by physics and computer science departments in colleges, such as providing a broader overview of the field in introductory courses, can yield big gains in female student recruitment and retention in STEM fields. “To diversify the STEM fields we must take a hard look at the stereotypes and biases that still pervade our culture. Encouraging more girls and women to enter these vital fields will require careful attention to the environment in our classrooms and workplaces and throughout our culture.”

See the report:

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