Girls Gravitate to Some STEM Classes, Avoid Others

Pleasanton, CA (female) — Sammy Basquez has an unreasonable fear of mathematics and physics. But she loves biology. As an up-and-coming senior in high school here, Basquez took six biology classes from botany to zoology, but she had only the minimum physics and math needed to achieve her graduation credits. I haven’t taken it.

“I don’t really like math, so I’m going to pursue a career in biology,” says a 17-year-old who recently spoke on the phone. “I think my thinking style and analytical skills are better suited for biology than mathematics or physics.”

women are Expanded rank in all so-called STEM fields Of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But the most rapid progress lies in life sciences (ie biology, psychology, social sciences). Women approach 50% of the workforce, but are highly undervalued in engineering, physics, astronomy and computer science. In these “physical sciences” they represent less than 30 percent.

The same tendency MIT schoolgirlAccording to a school survey a few years ago.

Researchers have studied the reasons for the status of women’s minorities in the physical sciences.

One factor is “structural discrimination”, where men occupy the top position and tend to hire other men. Elaine Howard Ecklund, a professor of sociology at Rice University, reports in a 2012 study... Ecklund also reports that the emotional content of biological research can make her pursuit of her career more attractive to women.

However, new disciplines that integrate mathematics, computer science, physics, and biology (such as bioengineering and bioinformatics) may involve more girls in disciplines that include physical science.

Ecklund writes that promoting the social benefits of physical science research at an earlier age will help recruit more girls in the fields of engineering, computer science, physics, and mathematics. Positive role models can also play a major role in getting girls to the physical sciences.

The role model can be an older sister, as in the case of Aoife O’Farrell.

Ofarel, an up-and-coming senior at Amador Valley High School, will enter college this fall as a biomedical engineering major. “My sister is also studying biotechnology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, so her positive experience also convinced me to pursue the same field,” she said in an email interview. Said.

Erin Mordekai, an assistant professor of biology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, conducts research involving mathematics, computer science, and ecology. A blend of physics and biological science.

Mordecai said in an email interview that one of the reasons women tend to be attracted to certain areas is that they are more comfortable, subsumed and encouraged when there are already many women in those areas. He said he thinks it is to feel that he is.

“I also think that many people, not just women, tend to give up math if they find it difficult, threatening, or late,” Mordecai added. “And they hate areas where math feels heavy. This kind of attitude seems to be more socially accepted in women.”

Mordecai says men established in the physical sciences can do a lot to hire more women. I remember she was the only female student in a college freshman calculus course. But the class was never intimidating. It was a rich and collaborative experience that stimulated her interest in pursuing higher levels of mathematics in college.

Megan Vakir, a third-year software engineering student at Osmania University’s Faculty of Engineering in Andrapradesh, India, recently received a job at Callidus Cloud, a software company headquartered in Dublin, California.

“Most of the physical sciences are still dominated by men, so we women need men to be more supportive and welcoming to start closing the gap,” Vakir said in a recent email. .. “At this point, it depends on men as well as women.”

It can also be highly dependent on the message the girl receives at home.

As a freshman at the Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology in Hyderabad, India, Shreya Reddy says it’s easy to identify the cause of her prejudice against the physical sciences. It’s her family.

She says her relatives have always encouraged her to pursue medicine, and her brother to pursue engineering. “It was always like this, even for my cousins ​​and extended families,” she said in an email interview with her. “Everyone in my family has always encouraged girls to be doctors and boys to be engineers.”

What do you think?

Written by Fem Society

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