In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She blasted off aboard Challenger, culminating a long journey that started in 1977 when the Ph.D. candidate answered an ad seeking astronauts for NASA missions.
According to her official biography, by the time Ride decided to apply to become an astronaut, she had already received degrees in physics and English and was on her way to a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University.
A University of Cambridge and University of Oxford study discovered that children who suffered from mathematics anxiety performed worse on math problems, affecting their performance. Girls suffered more math anxiety, even when they performed well.
In a University of Cambridge and University of Oxford study that looked at 433 British schoolchildren, researchers discovered that those who suffered from mathematics anxiety performed worse on math problems, affecting their performance. The study was published in Behavioral and Brain Functions on July 9.
Overall, more girls were affected by math anxiety than the boys. However, there were no gender differences in performance even if the girls dreaded doing math more. Researchers concluded that girls may be able to do even better in math if it wasn't for their anxiety levels.
"These results might suggest that girls may have had the potential to perform better than boys in mathematics, however, their performance may have been attenuated by higher levels of (mathematics anxiety)," the study authors wrote.
Reshaping a time-worn narrative isn't easy. Social revolutions rarely are, especially when you're a woman trying to break into the boys' club that is Silicon Valley.
But an emerging class of early-stage tech start-up executives is helping dispel the notion that there isn't a leading role for them in the male-dominated valley.
Company founders and leaders are coming out of Google, Salesforce.com and elsewhere for the excitement of shaping a young business.
The emergence of young female tech founders and executives reflects sweeping change in the worlds of start-up companies and angel funding, where wealthy investors give money in return for a stake in a company. It underscores the enormous purchasing prowess of women online that is transforming the Web economy. As more consumers reach for their smartphones and tablets to shop and communicate, there is a pressing need for commerce sites that cater to women, who control 70% of online purchases worldwide, according to Lisa Stone, CEO of BlogHer, a digital media company.
Many of these inroads are being made by female-led start-ups that are fueling innovation and the digital economy. Women will influence the purchase of $15 trillion in goods by 2014, according to Boston Consulting Group.
A recent Girl Scout Research Institute study showed that 74% of high school girls are interested in STEM. But few girls pursue careers in these areas, in part because many think they'd have to work harder than men to be taken seriously.
Leaders of the Girl Scouts aim to change this by ramping up the troops' exposure to STEM, both through activities and interactions with women working in these fields.
"Sometimes, access is just knowing about the careers that are available and meeting a young woman who is a role model," said Suzanne Harper, senior director of program resources at Girl Scouts of the USA, the national organization.
The Girl Scouts have infused STEM throughout their badges, which were overhauled last fall ahead of the organization's 100th anniversary this year. The organization has also formed new partnerships with AT&T and the New York Academy of Sciences to connect girls with female engineers, scientists and mathematicians.
Women are nominated for research prizes just as frequently as men, however unconscious bias and men running prize panels seems to be swaying award outcomes, suggests the study in the current Social Studies of Science journal.
Varying widely by discipline, women receiveabout 40% of all doctoratesin science (around 70% of psychology degrees but less in other fields) and engineering (about 10%), and have long suffered from lower odds of becoming full professors or attaining other markers of prestige in those fields.
"A large body of social science research finds that work done by women is perceived as less important or valuable that that done by men," begins the study led by sociologist Anne Lincoln of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In their research, the study authors looked at award patterns from 13 scientific and medical societies from 1991 (206 awards) to 2010 (296 awards).
Two University of Kansas professors have published a study showing that ability alone simply isn’t enough for women to excel in the STEM fields, and that how far women are from privilege makes a much bigger difference.
Barbara Kerr, Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology and Research in Education; and Karen Multon, professor and chair of psychology and research in education, published the study in the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. The study examines “distance from privilege,” or the idea that how far young women perceives themselves from ideal socioeconomic, geographic, educational and various other variables can determine how likely they can be to persist in education and careers in the STEM fields. Two methods for measuring where women view themselves in relation to ideal places of power and privilege were also developed.
“We’re trying to understand how to keep young women in college in STEM,” Kerr said. “Once they are in the field, how do we keep them there? We find over and over that women who do persist have had to overcome many barriers.”
The researchers have found that ability alone is not enough to predict whether a young woman will succeed in STEM. It is an important variable, Kerr said, but research should also consider a number of other social variables and take a subjective look at what may stand in the way of success. Developing a tool that can accurately measure distance from privilege can greatly benefit gender equity work and help develop a model for identifying women with the potential to persist in the field.
Overall, women in these fields, collectively known as STEM, for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are staying in these positions at the same rate as men, according to work done by Deborah Kaminski of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Cheryl Geisler of Simon Fraser University.
"This is really good news, it means if we hire them we are going to be able to keep them," Kaminski said in a podcast released by the journal Science, in which the study appears. The two also found that men and women receive promotions at about the same times.
In these fields overall, half of faculty will have departed within 10.9 years of their careers. One discipline bucks the overall trend, however. In mathematics, half of women leave by 4.45 years, and half of male faculty by 7.33 years into their careers, the study found. (A study released this week found that due to the demands of a professorship, many women choose motherhood over academics in math and science fields.)
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology released a new report that outlines four key areas where companies should focus their recruitment efforts to increase access to a range of technical talent available in a highly competitive environment. Solutions to Recruit Technical Women is the first in a series of reports offering solutions companies can employ to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of technical women.
Women are shunning academic careers in math-intensive fields because the lifestyle is incompatible with motherhood, researchers at Cornell University found in a study to be published next month in American Scientist Magazine.
Universities have long been criticized for hiring and evaluation policies that discriminate against women, but the findings of this new study point to the female biological clock as a main reason why so few women end up as professors in fields such as math, engineering, physics and computer science.
A woman who wants a family looks at the rigorous path to a tenured position and considers how old she will be before she can start a family and how little time she will have to raise her children. Many of those women opt for a more flexible career.
"Universities have been largely inflexible about anything other than the standard time table, which is you kill yourself for years and only then would you consider getting pregnant," said Wendy Williams, a human development professor at Cornell who co-authored the study with her husband, Stephen Ceci.
Williams and Ceci analyzed data about the academic careers of men and women with and without children. Before women became mothers, they had careers equivalent to or more successful than their male peers. But once children entered the equation, the dynamic changed.
Women in other academic fields such as the humanities and social sciences face similar hurdles and often leave academia as well. But because there are so many women in those Ph.D. programs, enough ultimately stay to amount to a critical mass of female professors.
In math-heavy fields, however, women make up a tiny minority of the graduate students. So when the rare few who make it through a Ph.D. program leave because universities are insensitive to their needs as mothers, the net result is virtually no women represented on faculty rosters, the study said.