Why Aren't More Women STEM'in?

Ashley Thorne

  • Article
  • April 06, 2010

Last week I published "Bias, Barriers, or Biology" in response to the AAUW's March report Why So Few? on why fewer women than men pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). I argued that while social norms and parent/teacher encouragement play a role in leading women to pursue such careers, attempts to achieve some sort of gender balance are misguided and ignore the fact that men and women are inherently different and their interests aren't always the same.

This week Minding the Campus features two additional articles responding to the AAUW report. Susan Pinker, author of The Sexual Paradox, writes that "there's good evidence that on average, women choose different disciplines than men do--or in different proportions--and they do so with their eyes and options open." John Rosenburg of the blog Discriminations places Why So Few? in context with a mountain of similar research by feminists puzzled by women's "underrepresentation."

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Diane Auer Jones warns, "the inherent bias in this report should caution everyone against taking the results too seriously" (the report had no male authors). Jones acknowledges a "gender gap" in STEM fields but says women need to stop blaming this on men and take responsibility for their own career success.

To read more about this debate, see the AQ article "Feminizing Science: The Alchemy of Title IX" by Patricia Hausman and the book The Science on Women and Science, compiled by NAS board member Christina Hoff Sommers.

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