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Achievement isn't why more men are majoring in physics, engineering and computer science

I have been always impressed by the research of Dr. Cimpian on gender equality in STEM and the insights he has provided over the past few years. “Dr. Cimpian’s research focuses on the use and development of novel and rigorous methods to study equity and policy, particularly concerning language minorities, women, and sexual minorities,” as per the NYU website.

There are a few STEM majors where the female-to-male ratios are well balanced but in Physics, Enggineering, and Computer Science (PECS) including Pure Mathematics, most colleges report a lot more men (4x to 5x) as compared to women. As per the recent research that got published in Science, NYU researchers found that the ratios are not imbalanced because men are performing better in STEM subjects in high school or related standardized test scores. However, the researchers found that “men with very low high-school GPAs in math and science and very low SAT math scores were choosing these math-intensive majors just as often as women with much higher math and science achievement.”

This is really surprising to me and something I would have not believed. I know there are potentially many reasons why women are not choosing these majors which could be related to their sense of belonging and inclusion in these fields. This study suggest that “interventions to close the gender gap may work to attract high-achieving women; yet, something beyond these student factors may be attracting low-achieving men and repelling average- and low-achieving women, and without addressing those factors, it is unlikely that the PECS gender gap will fully close.”


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