Understanding the math based sciences and women

And.. this is one year old news also, but the results expressed below are still not widely known.
In February 2010 the results of a study on underrepresentaiton of women in the science by Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams came up with the conclusion that despite common belief that discrimination was the root cause; the under representation of women, especially in the hard sciences (math based) was the result if a number of complicated and interrelated factors .
The study first examined the evidence for gender discrimination in hiring, funding and publication acceptance rates and found there was no difference though they did acknowledge there is some discrimination occurring. This level of ‘some’ discrimination was apparently not enough to affect their results. It also showed that comparable resources were available to women as well as men.
The problem seems to be primarily based on gendered expectations, lifestyle choices, and career preferences—some of these originating before or during adolescence or with factors surrounding family child rearing rules, and secondarily to sex based differences on graduate admission  test  performance in higher end mathematics.
Gendered expectations often result in adolescent girls preferring careers focusing on people as opposed to abstract concepts which makes sense from the perspective where there are burgeoning numbers of women entering fields as such as medicine and biology. In the meantime there is a smaller presence in math-intensive fields such as physics, engineering, chemistry, and mathematics, even when math capabilities are comparable to males. They quote a meta analysis of >500,000 participants, where the male-female effective size for preferring people vs. concepts or things overall was d > 0.90, and for engineering, 1.1. These are substantial and notable differences.
The authors advocate addressing remaining barriers to greater participation of women in math-intensive fields. One example suggested is Berkeley’s “Family Friendly Edge”
Definitely a paper worth reading of the issue of women in science. .
 
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About Deborah Leddon

Vegetarian Mother and Wife, Scientist at UTD CSS, passionate about my family, animal rights, the outdoors and my violin.
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