Tag Archives: STEM education: Where the girls are not

Cornell University study: Women preferred for tenure-track STEM positions

22 Apr

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.
A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 and http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html   Jason DeParle reported in the New York Times article, For Poor Strivers, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/education/poor-students-struggle-as-class-plays-a-greater-role-in-success.html?hpw&_r=0

Social class and background may not only affect an individual student’s choice of major, but their completion of college in that major. Nick De Santis reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Report Examines College Students’ Attrition From STEM Majors:

Twenty-eight percent of bachelor’s-degree students who began their postsecondary education in the 2003-4 academic year chose a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at some point within six years, but 48 percent of students who entered those fields during that period had left them by the spring of 2009, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Education Department’s statistical arm.
The report, which addresses attrition from the so-called STEM fields, also includes information on students pursuing associate degrees. It says that 20 percent of such students had chosen a STEM major within that six-year period and notes that 69 percent of them had left the STEM fields by the spring of 2009.
Of the students who left STEM fields, the report says, roughly half switched their major to a non-STEM field, and the rest left college without earning a degree or certificate. The report notes that fields such as the humanities and education experienced higher levels of attrition than did the STEM disciplines.
The report identifies several factors associated with a higher probability of switching out of STEM majors, such as taking lighter STEM course loads or less-challenging math classes in the first year, and earning lower grades in STEM courses than in others….
http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/report-examines-college-students-attrition-from-stem-majors/69705?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

A Cornell University study found that should women remain in STEM programs they might be preferred for tenure-track faculty positions.

Allie Bidwell reported in the U.S. News article, Report: Faculty Prefer Women for Tenure-Track STEM Positions:

In a nationwide study from the Cornell Institute for Women in Science – published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci found tenure-track faculty in engineering, economics, biology and psychology fields generally favored hiring female candidates over otherwise identical male candidates by a 2-to-1 margin. A series of five experiments were conducted on 873 faculty members at 371 colleges and universities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The stark underrepresentation of women in math-intensive STEM fields, the authors suggest, is more a result of obstacles at the front end that prevent women from applying for faculty positions in the first place. Meanwhile, it appears gender diversity has become more valued among college faculty…

In the first experiment, the researchers presented the faculty decision-makers with two highly qualified candidates who were equal other than their gender, as well as a third, slightly less-qualified male candidate. Overall, 67.3 percent of faculty ranked the female candidate first, which was consistent across varying lifestyles such as being married or single or having or not having young children.

But other variations showed some lifestyle choices may influence how hiring decisions are made.

A second experiment presented male and female candidates with nonmatching lifestyles: a divorced mother with two young children and an absent ex-spouse competing with a married father with two young children and a stay-at-home wife, for example. In that scenario, female faculty strongly preferred divorced mothers over married fathers (71.4 percent compared with 28.6 percent), while male faculty showed the opposite trend, just not as strongly (42.9 percent compared with 57.1 percent).

When focusing on whether candidates took parental leave during graduate school, male faculty members by a 2-1 margin preferred female candidates who took a one-year leave over those who did not. Male and female faculty showed no preference between male candidates who did or did not take leave, but female faculty members tended to prefer female candidates who did not take leave.

“Women’s perceptions that an extended maternity leave will cause them to be viewed as less committed to their profession may influence some women to opt out entirely,” the study said.
A fourth experiment was conducted to determine whether faculty decision-makers would still rank female candidates higher if they were presented with full CVs, as opposed to narrative summaries with notes from a search committee, and the researchers found similar results. Finally, a fifth experiment presented faculty with one applicant to rate – to see if they would still prefer a female if they couldn’t choose among men and women – and found the faculty members still favored female applicants….

Still, other studies have found evidence of gender bias in STEM related fields.
“When looking at gender bias in science, it’s very important to look at what particular context,” says David Miller, a graduate student at Northwestern University who has studied gender representation in STEM. “The fact there was a preference for female candidates is perhaps not that surprising if you consider many of these faculty hiring boards are looking to diversify their group of faculty. There are other contexts that do show gender bias against females.”

In 2012, Corinne Moss-Racusin, an assistant professor of psychology at Skidmore College, published research that showed strong gender bias in hiring for a lab manager position. Moss-Racusin and her colleagues asked more than 100 STEM professors to assess fictitious resumes that only differed in the name of the applicant (John vs. Jennifer). Despite being otherwise identical in qualifications, the female applicant was seen as less competent – and the scientists were less willing to mentor the candidate or hire her for the position, and recommended paying her a lower salary.

Williams and Ceci argue in an appendix to their study that Moss-Racusin’s research differs from their own because it focuses on biases against female undergraduate students, rather than those who have already earned a doctorate. The results of Moss-Racusin’s study likely doesn’t explain the underrepresentation of women in academia, Williams and Ceci wrote, because few lab managers go on to tenure-track positions later in their careers…. http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2015/04/13/report-faculty-prefer-women-for-tenure-track-stem-positions

Citation:

National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track

1. Wendy M. Williams1 and
2. Stephen J. Ceci

Significance

The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring. Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.

Abstract

National randomized experiments and validation studies were conducted on 873 tenure-track faculty (439 male, 434 female) from biology, engineering, economics, and psychology at 371 universities/colleges from 50 US states and the District of Columbia. In the main experiment, 363 faculty members evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical female and male applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships who shared the same lifestyle (e.g., single without children, married with children). Applicants’ profiles were systematically varied to disguise identically rated scholarship; profiles were counterbalanced by gender across faculty to enable between-faculty comparisons of hiring preferences for identically qualified women versus men. Results revealed a 2:1 preference for women by faculty of both genders across both math-intensive and non–math-intensive fields, with the single exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference. Results were replicated using weighted analyses to control for national sample characteristics. In follow-up experiments, 144 faculty evaluated competing applicants with differing lifestyles (e.g., divorced mother vs. married father), and 204 faculty compared same-gender candidates with children, but differing in whether they took 1-y-parental leaves in graduate school. Women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers; men preferred mothers who took leaves to mothers who did not. In two validation studies, 35 engineering faculty provided rankings using full curricula vitae instead of narratives, and 127 faculty rated one applicant rather than choosing from a mixed-gender group; the same preference for women was shown by faculty of both genders. These results suggest it is a propitious time for women launching careers in academic science. Messages to the contrary may discourage women from applying for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tenure-track assistant professorships. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/04/08/1418878112

Here is the press release from Cornell University:

April 13, 2015

Women preferred 2:1 over men for STEM faculty positions

By   Ted Boscia

For decades, sexism in higher education has been blamed for blocking women from landing academic positions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
But a new study by Cornell psychologists suggests that era has ended, finding in experiments with professors from 371 colleges and universities across the United States that science and engineering faculty preferred women two-to-one over identically qualified male candidates for assistant professor positions.

Published online April 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper, “National Hiring Experiments Reveal 2:1 Faculty Preference For Women on STEM Tenure Track,” by Wendy M. Williams, professor of human development, and Stephen J. Ceci, the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, both in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, argues that the academic job market has never been better for women Ph.D.s in math-intensive fields.

Williams and Ceci conducted five randomized controlled experiments with 873 tenure-track faculty in all 50 U.S. states to assess gender bias. In three studies, faculty evaluated narrative summaries describing hypothetical male and female applicants for tenure-track assistant professorships in biology, economics, engineering and psychology. In a fourth experiment, engineering faculty evaluated full CVs instead of narratives, and in a fifth study, faculty evaluated one candidate (either a man or identically qualified woman) without comparison to an opposite-gender candidate. Candidates’ personalities were systematically varied to disguise the hypotheses.

The only evidence of bias the authors discovered was in favor of women; faculty in all four disciplines preferred female applicants to male candidates, with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.

In some conditions, Williams and Ceci also matched applicants on job qualifications and lifestyle characteristics such as marital and parental status and used contrasting lifestyles in others. They examined attributes such as being a single mother, having a stay-at-home partner and past choices about taking parental leave. These experiments revealed that female faculty preferred divorced mothers over married fathers and male faculty preferred mothers who took leaves over mothers who did not.

“Efforts to combat formerly widespread sexism in hiring appear to have succeeded,” Williams and Ceci write. “Our data suggest it is an auspicious time to be a talented woman launching a STEM tenure-track academic career, contrary to findings from earlier investigations alleging bias, none of which examined faculty hiring bias against female applicants in the disciplines in which women are underrepresented. Our research suggests that the mechanism resulting in women’s underrepresentation today may lie more on the supply side, in women’s decisions not to apply, than on the demand side, in anti-female bias in hiring.”

“Women struggling with the quandary of how to remain in the academy but still have extended leave time with new children, and debating having children in graduate school versus waiting until tenure, may be heartened to learn that female candidates depicted as taking one-year parental leaves in our study were ranked higher by predominantly male voting faculties than identically qualified mothers who did not take leaves,” the authors continue.

Real-world academic hiring data validate the findings, too. The paper notes recent national census-type studies showing that female Ph.D.s are disproportionately less likely to apply for tenure-track positions, yet when they do they are more likely to be hired, in some science fields approaching the two-to-one ratio revealed by Williams and Ceci.
The authors note that greater gender awareness in the academy and the retirement of older, more sexist faculty may have gradually led to a more welcoming environment for women in academic science.

Despite these successes, Williams and Ceci acknowledge that women face other barriers to entry during adolescence and young adulthood, in graduate school and later in their careers as academic scientists, particularly when balancing motherhood and careers. They are currently analyzing national data on mentorship, authorship decisions and tenure advice, all as a function of gender, to better understand women and men’s decisions to apply to, and persist in, academic science. Ted Boscia is director of communications and media for the College of Human Ecology.
http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/04/women-preferred-21-over-men-stem-faculty-positions

The Cornell study points to the need for good science education to prepare a diverse population for opportunities. K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”

Related:

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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University of Illinois and Princeton University study: Stereotypes that women are not as brilliant as men result in gender inequity in academia

15 Jan

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader wrote in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening…
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions….http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Stephanie Castillo reported in the Medical Daily article, Gender Inequality In Academia Stems From Assumption Women Aren’t As Brilliant As Men:

A new study published in the journal Science continues to support the idea gender inequality exists in academia.

According to researchers from the University of Illinois and Princeton University, women are underrepresented in academic fields, such as the sciences, the humanities, social sciences, and math, because of stereotypes. Namely, the idea is that women’s intellectual abilities are inferior to those of men. Cue the eye rolling.

The study surveyed more than 1,800 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members across 30 academic disciplines, asking them the qualities required for success in their fields. When it came to the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), as well as the humanities and social sciences, women were underrepresented because of the premium practitioners put on brilliance.

“We’re not saying brilliance — or valuing brilliance — is a bad thing. And we’re not saying women are not brilliant or that being brilliant isn’t helpful to one’s academic career. Our data don’t address that,” Andrei Cimpian, lead study author and psychology professor at Illinois, explained in a press release. “What they suggest is that conveying to your students a belief that brilliance is required for success may have a differential effect on males and females that are looking to pursue careers in your field.”

Cimpian’s explanation held up after he and his team tested for three additional hypotheses regarding female underrepresentation: one, women avoid working long hours; two, it’s harder for women to break into these highly selective fields; and three, men simply outnumber women “in fields that require analytical, systematical reasoning.” Neither of these was able to predict women’s representation in academia as well as brilliance.

But, just because Cimpian’s study didn’t address the idea “women aren’t brilliant” or “being brilliant isn’t helpful” doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. Because if it were true no one is saying or making these assumptions, there would be more women in academia. Cimpian himself said there’s no convincing evidence men and women differ intellectually in ways that would be relevant to their success working in science — it’s mainly the perceived or presumed differences between women and men.

The idea women are “inferior” to men started somewhere, so where should we be looking in order to come up with the solution? One study published in the journal Life Science Education suggested the classroom…http://www.medicaldaily.com/gender-inequality-academia-stems-assumption-women-arent-brilliant-men-317984

Citation:

Science 16 January 2015:
Vol. 347 no. 6219 pp. 262-265
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261375

  • Report

Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines

  1. Sarah-Jane Leslie1,*,,
  2. Andrei Cimpian2,*,,
  3. Meredith Meyer3,
  4. Edward Freeland4

+ Author Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Philosophy, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
  2. 2Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.
  3. 3Department of Psychology, Otterbein University, Westerville, OH 43081, USA.
  4. 4Survey Research Center, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
  1. *These authors contributed equally to the work.

The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans’ underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses.

  • Received for publication 17 September 2014.
  • Accepted for publication 25 November 2014.

Related Web Sites

Read the Full Text

The editors suggest the following Related Resources on Science sites

In Science Magazine

  • Perspective Social Science Gender inequality in science
    • Andrew M. Penner

Science 16 January 2015: 234-235.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6219/262.short

Here is the press release from the University of Illinois:

Public Release: 15-Jan-2015 Study supports new explanation of gender gaps in academia

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It isn’t that women don’t want to work long hours or can’t compete in highly selective fields, and it isn’t that they are less analytical than men, researchers report in a study of gender gaps in academia. It appears instead that women are underrepresented in academic fields whose practitioners put a lot of emphasis on the importance of being brilliant – a quality many people assume women lack.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

The research, led by University of Illinois psychology professor Andrei Cimpian and Princeton University philosophy professor Sarah-Jane Leslie , focused on a broad swath of academic disciplines, including those in the sciences, the humanities, social sciences and math.

The researchers focused on the culture of different fields, reasoning that stereotypes of women’s inferior intellectual abilities might help explain why women are underrepresented in fields – such as physics or philosophy – that idolize geniuses.

The team surveyed more than 1,800 graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty members in 30 academic disciplines and, among other things, asked them what qualities were required for success in their fields. Across the board, in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (the so-called STEM fields), as well as in the humanities and social sciences, women were found to be underrepresented in those disciplines whose practitioners put a premium on brilliance.

“We’re not saying brilliance – or valuing brilliance – is a bad thing,” Cimpian said. “And we’re not saying women are not brilliant or that being brilliant isn’t helpful to one’s academic career. Our data don’t address that. What they suggest is that conveying to your students a belief that brilliance is required for success may have a differential effect on males and females that are looking to pursue careers in your field.”

The team also tested three other hypotheses that might help explain women’s underrepresentation in some fields: one, that women avoid careers that require them to work long hours; two, that women are less able than men to get into highly selective fields; and three, that women are outnumbered by men in fields that require analytical, systematical reasoning.

“We found that none of these three alternative hypotheses was able to predict women’s representation across the academic spectrum,” Leslie said. “A strong emphasis on brilliance among practitioners of particular fields was the best predictor of women’s underrepresentation in those fields.”

The researchers are still investigating whether women are actively avoiding fields that focus on cultivating brilliant individuals, or if practitioners in those fields are discriminating against women based on their beliefs about women’s aptitudes. A combination of the two is certainly plausible, Cimpian said.

“There is no convincing evidence in the literature that men and women differ intellectually in ways that would be relevant to their success across the entire range of fields we surveyed,” Cimpian said. “So it is most likely that female underrepresentation is not the result of actual differences in intellectual ability – but rather the result of perceived or presumed differences between women and men.”

###

Editor’s notes:

To reach Andrei Cimpian, call 217-333-0852; email acimpian@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines” is available to members of the media from scipak@aaas.org.

How classes are taught and how girls and woman are encouraged makes a huge difference in the fields women choose for their education and work.

Phoebe Parke of CNN wrote in the article, Ask the experts: How do we get girls into STEM?

  1. “The toys and games that young girls play with mold their educational and career interests; they create dreams of future careers.” says Andrea Guendelman, co-founder of Developher

  2. “Introduce girls early to role models of other women In STEM” suggests Regina Agyare, founder of Soronko Solutions….

  3. “It’s important to engage girls in STEM at an early age and keep them interested.” adds Patty L. Fagin, PhD, Head of School at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

  4. “There’s no magic recipe for getting girls into STEM, but we know early and positive exposure makes an impact.” Karen Horting, CEO and Executive Director at the Society of Women Engineers told CNN….

  5. “Start them young.” is Michelle Sun, Founder and CEO of First Code Academy‘s advice….

  6. “I believe one on one mentoring programs with accomplished female STEM professionals will help bring girls in to the STEM field.” says Adeola Shasanya who recently co-founded Afro-Tech Girls and works at the Lagos State Electricity Board as an Electrical Engineering and Renewables Consultant….

  7. Haiyan Zhang, Innovation Director at Lift London, Microsoft Studios believes confidence is key; “Insatiable curiosity and the self confidence to make change in the world — two qualities that are key to instil in the female innovators of the future….

  8. “Women are the future of technology and today’s technology is fun and cool.” says Weili Dai, President and Co-founder of Marvell Technology Group

  9. “Time and again, I hear from women who chose their STEM career because they were inspired by a successful woman who proved it could be done.” adds Suw Charman-Anderson, Founder of Ada Lovelace Day….

  10. “To get more girls in STEM let’s go for collective action…” says Julie Kantor, Chief Partnership Officer at Million Women Mentors

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/27/world/europe/how-to-get-girls/

It is going to take a variety of strategies which include mentoring, exposure to what is now considered nontraditional fields and encouragement of girls and women not only entering nontraditional fields, but staying the course.

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia

https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers

https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?

https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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American Institutes for Research study: Gender imbalances among stem PhDs

1 Oct

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening…
While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.
How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.
Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions….http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in the article, Report Examines Fields With Highest Gender Imbalances Among Ph.D.’s:

The researchers examined gender balances in 135 academic fields: 55 in the so-called STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and 80 non-STEM fields. They determined overrepresentation by comparing whether the gender breakdown of doctoral-degree recipients in a particular field was more skewed than the gender makeup of bachelor’s-degree recipients in that field.
The paper says that the STEM-related fields were slightly less likely than other fields to have an underrepresentation of women with Ph.D.’s.
Among the 55 STEM-related fields, men were overrepresented in 74.5 percent and women were overrepresented in 25.5 percent. Among the other 80 fields, men were overrepresented in 77.5 percent and women were overrepresented in 22.5 percent.
“There is a considerable loss of female candidates between the bachelor’s and doctoral degrees,” Mr. Gillen said in a news release about the findings. “If we want gender equity at the doctoral level, efforts need to be made earlier in students’ academic pathways and sustained throughout their doctoral education.”
Following are the top five fields in which men are overrepresented among doctoral-degree recipients, according to the report:
1. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services
2. Missions/Missionary Studies and Missiology
3. Law
4. Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences, General
5. Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods
Following are the top five fields in which women are overrepresented among doctoral-degree recipients, according to the report:
1. Forestry (Non-STEM)
2. Slavic, Baltic, and Albanian Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
3. Forestry (STEM)
4. Fine and Studio Arts
5. Information Science/Studies
Bottom Line: Men are overrepresented in about three-quarters of the fields studied, while women are overrepresented in about one-quarter. Out of the 135 fields analyzed, women were slightly less likely to be underrepresented in STEM fields. http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/report-examines-fields-with-highest-gender-imbalances-among-ph-d-s/87109?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Here is the article brief:
Moi believes that good and gifted teachers come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and both genders. Teachers are often role models and mentors which is why a diverse teaching profession is desirable.

30 Sep 2014
Brief
Exploring Gender Imbalance Among STEM Doctoral Degree Recipients
Andrew Gillen
Courtney Tanenbaum
Gender imbalance in doctoral education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields raises important questions about the extent to which women experience differential access, encouragement, and opportunity for academic advancement. Through primary school and middle school, girls and boys typically indicate an equal interest and demonstrate equivalent levels of achievement on several science and mathematical indicators, but girls’ interest in pursuing scientific degrees and careers wanes by high school.
Accurately identifying the nature of the imbalance is an important first step in addressing it. The alternate method used in this brief to account for the gender breakdown among undergraduate degree recipients provides a more reliable gauge of gender imbalance at the doctoral level.
Key results from using this alternate method are as follows:
• ——Men are overrepresented in about three quarters of academic fields and women are overrepresented in about one quarter of academic fields.
• STEM fields are slightly more gender-balanced than non-STEM fields.
• Among STEM fields, and often in contrast to conventional wisdom, biological and biomedical sciences and the physical sciences show the greatest overrepresentation of males and engineering was roughly gender-balanced.
This brief is one in a series produced by AIR to promote research, policy, and practice related to broadening the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM doctoral education and the workforce.

Moi believes that good and gifted teachers come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and both genders. Teachers are often role models and mentors which is why a diverse teaching profession is desirable.

Related:

Girls and math phobia https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Report: STEM attrition in college often occurs because students not prepared for the challenge

28 Nov

Moi wrote in The role economic class plays in college success: Moi wrote in Race, class, and education in America:
Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.
A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class https://drwilda.com/2011/11/07/race-class-and-education-in-america/

Jason DeParle reported in the New York Times article, For Poor Strivers, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall:

“Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer — the place where upward mobility gets started,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. “But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. It’s very disheartening.”
The growing role of class in academic success has taken experts by surprise since it follows decades of equal opportunity efforts and counters racial trends, where differences have narrowed. It adds to fears over recent evidence suggesting that low-income Americans have lower chances of upward mobility than counterparts in Canada and Western Europe.
Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees, according to Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Now the gap is 45 points.
While both groups improved their odds of finishing college, the affluent improved much more, widening their sizable lead.
Likely reasons include soaring incomes at the top and changes in family structure, which have left fewer low-income students with the support of two-parent homes. Neighborhoods have grown more segregated by class, leaving lower-income students increasingly concentrated in lower-quality schools. And even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt….
Income has always shaped academic success, but its importance is growing. Professor Reardon, the Stanford sociologist, examined a dozen reading and math tests dating back 25 years and found that the gap in scores of high- and low-income students has grown by 40 percent, even as the difference between blacks and whites has narrowed.
While race once predicted scores more than class, the opposite now holds. By eighth grade, white students surpass blacks by an average of three grade levels, while upper-income students are four grades ahead of low-income counterparts. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/education/poor-students-struggle-as-class-plays-a-greater-role-in-success.html?hpw&_r=0

Social class and background may not only affect an individual student’s choice of major, but their completion of college in that major.

Nick De Santis reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Report Examines College Students’ Attrition From STEM Majors:

Twenty-eight percent of bachelor’s-degree students who began their postsecondary education in the 2003-4 academic year chose a major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at some point within six years, but 48 percent of students who entered those fields during that period had left them by the spring of 2009, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Education Department’s statistical arm.
The report, which addresses attrition from the so-called STEM fields, also includes information on students pursuing associate degrees. It says that 20 percent of such students had chosen a STEM major within that six-year period and notes that 69 percent of them had left the STEM fields by the spring of 2009.
Of the students who left STEM fields, the report says, roughly half switched their major to a non-STEM field, and the rest left college without earning a degree or certificate. The report notes that fields such as the humanities and education experienced higher levels of attrition than did the STEM disciplines.
The report identifies several factors associated with a higher probability of switching out of STEM majors, such as taking lighter STEM course loads or less-challenging math classes in the first year, and earning lower grades in STEM courses than in others….
http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/report-examines-college-students-attrition-from-stem-majors/69705?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

Citation:

Title: STEM Attrition: College Students’ Paths Into and Out of STEM Fields
Description: This Statistical Analysis Report presents the most recent national statistics on beginning bachelor’s and associate’s degree students’ entrance into, and attrition from, STEM fields. Using recent transcript data, it provides a first look at STEM coursetaking and examines how participation and performance in undergraduate STEM coursework, along with other factors, are associated with STEM attrition. The study is based on data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09) and the associated 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS:09).

ERRATA: A typographical error has been found on page vi of the report’s Executive Summary. The affected line should read:

“Bachelor’s degree STEM entrants who were male or who came from low-income backgrounds had a higher probability of leaving STEM by dropping out of college than their peers who were female or came from high-income backgrounds, net of other factors.”

A revised version of the report will be posted when available under the publication number 2014001rev.
Online Availability: • Download, view and print the report as a pdf file. (1527KB) http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014001rev.pdf
Need Help Viewing PDF files?

Cover Date: November 2013
Web Release: November 26, 2013
Publication #: NCES 2014001REV
Center/Program: NCES

Authors: Xianglei Chen
Type of Product: Statistical Analysis Report

Survey/Program Areas: Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS)

Keywords: Beginning students in postsecondary education
Postsecondary education
• field of study
• outcomes
• persistence and attainment
Science
STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics)

Questions: For questions about the content of this Statistical Analysis Report, please contact:
Aurora M. D’Amico.

Megan Rogers wrote in the Inside Higher Ed article, STEM-ming the Tide:

About 28 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates and 20 percent of associate degree candidates had declared a STEM major. Of those who had entered a STEM program, 48 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates had left the STEM field by spring 2009. The attrition rate was greater for associate degree candidates — 69 percent of STEM entrants had left the STEM field during the course of the study. An October 2012 report tracking students who had entered postsecondary education in the 2003-2004 academic year found the same attrition rate for STEM entrants.
The attrition rate was highest for bachelor’s degree candidates who declared a major in computer/information sciences and for associate degree candidates who declared a major in mathematics.
About half of those who left had switched into a non-STEM degree program and the other half had left college without earning any degree or certificate. The study found that 22 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates and 16 percent of associate’s degree students chose to pursue business majors.
Low-performing students (those with an overall grade point average below 2.5) were more likely to exit the STEM field by dropping out of college than were high-performing students (those with an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher). The high-performing students were more likely to switch to a non-STEM major than their low-performing peers.
The study found some differences in how men and women exited the STEM fields. More men than women left STEM disciplines by dropping out of college and more women than men left STEM by switching majors. According to the study, 32 percent of women who left STEM fields switched to a different major, compared with 26 percent of men. And 24 percent of men left the STEM field by dropping out of college, compared with 14 percent of women.
Taking lighter credits loads in STEM courses in the first year, taking less challenging math courses in the first year and performing poorly in STEM classes relative to non-STEM classes were associated with an increased probability of switching majors for STEM entrants, according to the study…. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/27/study-tracks-attrition-rates-stem-majors#ixzz2lyY9tKKy

K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”

Related:

Helping community college students to graduate https://drwilda.com/2012/02/08/helping-community-college-students-to-graduate/

The digital divide affects the college application process https://drwilda.com/2012/12/08/the-digital-divide-affects-the-college-application-process/

College readiness: What are ‘soft skills’ https://drwilda.com/2012/11/14/college-readiness-what-are-soft-skills/

Colleges rethinking who may need remedial education https://drwilda.com/2012/10/24/colleges-rethinking-who-may-need-remedial-education/

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Reducing gender differences in STEM education

21 Apr

Many girls and women who have the math and science aptitude for a science career don’t enter scientific fields. Cheryl B. Schrader writes in the St Louis Post-Dispatch article, STEM education: Where the girls are not:

Compounding this issue, the gender gap in these fields is widening.

The Jan. 30 report from STEMconnector and My College Options — titled “Where Are the STEM Students?” — underscores the importance of these fields for our nation’s future economic well-being. It also presents a challenge for all of us in education, from kindergarten through college, to increase interest levels in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the so-called STEM fields — for all types of students.

While the majority of U.S. college students today are female, they remain a minority in many science and engineering fields. If universities are to meet the future demands of our economy, we can’t leave half of the college-bound population on the sidelines.

How can we change that? The STEMconnector report offers some hints.

Female high school students who are interested in these fields often gravitate toward biology, chemistry, marine biology and science — areas often associated with a desire to make the world a better place. Women tend to be drawn to these service-oriented professions.

But thanks to the rise of cloud computing, information systems and the app economy, 71 percent of the new STEM jobs in 2018 are projected to be in the computing fields. Getting girls interested in these fields at a young age will be critical if we are to meet the coming demand for talented and well-educated computer scientists, computer engineers and game designers.

With this in mind, it’s important to convey to young women computing’s role in serving society. We should show a young woman how a computer science degree could equip her to design a new app to diagnose illness. That may appeal more to her desire to help others than, say, showing her how to write code for yet another online game.

Programs like Project Lead the Way, which introduces middle school and high school students to engineering and science, help students learn more about these fields at an early age. In Missouri, 165 high schools and middle schools are using PLTW’s engineering and biomedical sciences materials to generate more interest in those areas. http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/stem-education-where-the-girls-are-not/article_ae33c7b7-6a7b-5011-8d2a-138bc1538357.html

See, STEM Connector http://store.stemconnector.org/Where-Are-the-STEM-Students_p_9.html

Jonathan Olsen and Sarah Gross, teachers at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey guest post in the Scientific American article, To Attract More Girls to STEM, Bring More Storytelling to Science:

Perhaps girls with high verbal scores choose careers other than STEM because their passion hasn’t been kindled in those classes. We know it is not the fault of their teachers but a problem of process.  For many schools, arts and sciences are rarely ever integrated.  Teachers are kept apart with little time to collaborate.

If integration does happen, it is usually the humanities teacher looking to include aspects of STEM in their courses.  The recent adoption of the Common Core Standards by forty-five states calls for more integration between subjects.  However, ask most humanities teachers and they will tell you that they are being told to integrate STEM content into their classes, removing literature for nonfiction, rather than being given the opportunity to collaborate with their STEM counterparts.  Integration is wonderfully effective and certainly the future of education but it is a two-way street.  We think schools should use reciprocal integration between the arts and sciences to capture the imagination of these top female students.

How many engineering teachers include a fiction book like Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano in their syllabi?  Do many math teachers analyze the intricacies of M. C. Escher’s artwork with their students or read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo? How many science teachers read aloud the poetic observations of Dr. David George Haskell?  Do many biology teachers share the story of the HeLa cells?  We think ideas like these should be a part of all STEM curricula.  And experts agree. The NextGeneration Science Standards, released for public discussion last week, ask teachers to show students how insights from many disciplines fit together into a coherent picture of the world.  And we believe that incorporating more storytelling into science can help do this.

Research has shown that storytelling activates the brain beyond mere word recognition.  In 2006, researchers in Spain discovered that stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life. Last year, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that similes and metaphors can activate sensory portions of the brain, and the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France discovered that action words can stimulate the motor cortex.  So if, as the recent study in Psychological Science shows, female students with high ability in both math and verbal areas tend to steer away from STEM careers, maybe it’s time to bring more of those verbal skills into the STEM classes for the benefit of these students. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/budding-scientist/2013/04/16/to-attract-more-girls-to-stem-bring-storytelling-to-science/?WT.mc_id=SA_emailfriend

Here is the press release from the University of Pittsburgh:

March 19, 2013

Women With Both High Math and Verbal Ability Appear Less Likely to Choose Science Careers Because Their Dual Skills Confer More Career Options

Pitt-Michigan study finds that more women than men have combination of high math and high verbal skills, recommends new focus on tapping potential of women with that combination for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

Study also finds that women with high math skills and only moderate verbal ability are the ones who appear more likely to choose STEM careers

PITTSBURGH—There has been ongoing public discussion about the need to educate and recruit more young Americans for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Now a just-published study by the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan offers one potential solution to this perennial problem: more concentrated efforts to encourage women who already possess the necessary skills. 

It turns out that there is a pre-existing pool of women with both high math and high verbal ability; it’s just that they seem to be more likely to choose careers outside of science because their combination of skills provides them with more career options, according to the Pitt study, published March 19 in Psychological Science. 

Principal Investigator and Pitt Assistant Professor of Psychology in Education Ming-Te Wang and collaborators at the University of Michigan found that the mean SAT math score of a group of men and women with the combination of high math and high verbal scores was 720, while the mean SAT verbal score was 696, both out of a possible 800. This group of math and verbal high achievers included a significantly higher proportion of women (63 percent) than men (37 percent).

Additionally, the researchers found that women in the group of men and women with high math scores and only moderate verbal scores were the ones more likely to choose STEM careers. The mean math SAT score for this group was 721, while the mean verbal SAT score was 655. 

Our study suggests that it’s not lack of ability or difference in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers but the fact that they can consider a wider range of occupations because of their combination of excellent math and verbal skills,” said Wang. “This highlights the need for educators and policy makers to shift the focus away from trying to strengthen girls’ STEM-related abilities and instead tap the potential of these girls who are highly skilled in both the math and verbal domains to go into STEM fields.”

Wang and his collaborators examined data on 1,490 college-bound U.S. students, with the information drawn from the University of Michigan’s Longitudinal Study of American Youth. The subjects in the Michigan Longitudinal Study were surveyed by Michigan in two waves: once in the 12th grade (1992) and again at age 33 (2007). The subjects completed telephone interviews, which required them to update their educational and occupational histories from high school through the time of the second-wave survey. Only subjects who participated in both waves were included in Wang’s study; all had received a four-year college degree by the time of the second-wave survey. The participants were 49 percent female and 51 percent male.  

The survey evaluated such factors as participants’ SAT scores, family needs, whether they liked working with people or things, their devotion to a career, and, ultimately, the occupations they chose by age 33. 

The researchers found, from their analysis of the Michigan Longitudinal Study data, that men and women who felt more successful in mathematics than in verbal-related disciplines were more likely to work in STEM fields by the time they had reached the age of 33. Mathematics, said Wang, played a role in these individuals’ identities because they excelled within the discipline, driving them to pursue STEM-related jobs. 

We need to make sure girls and women—especially those with the combination of high math and high verbal skills—are well informed regarding the full diversity of options available in STEM careers,” said Wang. “We want them to see the value in these disciplines so they won’t shy away from science- or math-related careers because of lack of information, misinformation, or stereotypes.”

Wang’s coauthors include the University of Michigan’s Jacquelynne Eccles and Sarah Kenny. 

The paper is titled “Not Lack of Ability but More Choice: Individual and Gender Differences in Choice of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” 

A PDF of the study is available upon request. 

###

3/19/13/mab/cjhm

In Study: Elementary school teachers have an impact on girls math learning moi wrote:

Moi has written about the importance of motivation in student learning. In Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, moi wrote:

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. A series of papers about student motivation by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) follows the Council on Foreign Relations report by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein.                                                                                      https://drwilda.com/2012/05/30/research-papers-student-motivation-an-overlooked-piece-of-school-reform/

https://drwilda.com/2013/01/31/study-elementary-school-teachers-have-an-impact-on-girls-math-learning/

Related:

Girls and math phobia                                                                       https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls                                                                                  https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers                                                                 https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning? https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

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