Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More career options may explain why fewer women pursue jobs in science and math

Date:
March 19, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Women may be less likely to pursue careers in science and math because they have more career choices, not because they have less ability, according to a new study.

Women may be less likely to pursue careers in science and math because they have more career choices, not because they have less ability, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Although the gender gap in mathematics has narrowed in recent decades, with more females enrolling and performing well in math classes, females are still less likely to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) than their male peers.

Researchers tend to agree that differences in math ability can't account for the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. So what does?

Developmental psychologist Ming-Te Wang and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Michigan wondered whether differences in overall patterns of math and verbal ability might play a role.

The researchers examined data from 1490 college-bound US students drawn from a national longitudinal study. The students were surveyed in 12th grade and again when they were 33 years old. The survey included data on several factors, including participants' SAT scores, various aspects of their motivational beliefs and values, and their occupations at age 33.

Looking at students who showed high math abilities, Wang and colleagues found that those students who also had high verbal abilities -- a group that contained more women than men -- were less likely to have chosen a STEM occupation than those who had moderate verbal abilities.

Further analyses suggest that gender differences in career choice could be explained, at least in part, by differences in students' combinations of abilities.

According to Wang, this study identifies a critical link in the debate about the dearth of women in STEM fields.

"Our study shows that it's not lack of ability or differences in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers, it's the greater likelihood that females with high math ability also have high verbal ability," notes Wang. "Because they're good at both, they can consider a wide range of occupations."

Notably, those participants who reported feeling more able and successful at math were more likely to end up in a STEM-related job, and this was particularly true for students who had high math and moderate verbal abilities. Thus, math may play a more integral role in these individuals' sense of identity, drawing them toward STEM occupations.

Considerable funds have been put into designing and testing a wide variety of intervention programs to increase female participation in math-intensive careers.

According to Wang, these new findings suggest that "educators and policy makers may consider shifting the focus from trying to strengthen girls' STEM-related abilities to trying to tap the potential of these girls who are equally skilled in both math and verbal domains."

In addition to Wang, co-authors include Jacquelynne Eccles and Sarah Kenny of the University of Michigan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M.-T. Wang, J. S. Eccles, S. Kenny. Not Lack of Ability but More Choice: Individual and Gender Differences in Choice of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612458937

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "More career options may explain why fewer women pursue jobs in science and math." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319144429.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, March 19). More career options may explain why fewer women pursue jobs in science and math. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319144429.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "More career options may explain why fewer women pursue jobs in science and math." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319144429.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins