Women's choices, not abilities, keep them out of math-intensive fields
Association for Psychological Science: A new study by psychological scientists answers the question of why women are underrepresented in STEM fields. Conclusions show that main factors include personal choice, and child-bearing years.
"The question of why women are so underrepresented in math-intensive fields is a controversial one. Two psychological scientists have reviewed all of the evidence and concluded that the main factor is women's choices—both freely made, such as that they'd rather study biology than math, and constrained, such as the fact that the difficult first years as a professor coincide with the time when many women are having children.
Psychological scientists Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams of Cornell University set out to understand the differences between men and women in math-intensive fields such as physics, electrical engineering, computer science, economics, and chemistry. In the top 100 U.S. universities, only 9% to 16% of tenure-track positions in these kinds of fields are held by women.
Williams and Ceci also reviewed research on sex discrimination and decided that it is no longer a major factor. In fact, one large-scale national study found that women are actually slightly more likely than men to be invited to interview for and to be offered tenure-track jobs in math-intensive STEM fields. Instead, Williams and Ceci think the problem is that women actually choose not to go into math-heavy fields, or drop out once they have started."