Wealthier countries have fewer women in science and technology according to new study

4 months 4 days 41 minutes ago Wednesday, February 14 2018 Feb 14, 2018 Wednesday, February 14, 2018 6:56:00 PM CST February 14, 2018 in Top Stories
By: Abby Dodge, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA – A recent study out of the University of Missouri in collaboration with Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom found even though some girls are scoring at or above boys in science and math, their reading comprehension scores are even higher. This is leading them away from careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a grouping of careers known as STEM.

“Say you’re really good at math and science because you’re a good student, but you’re even better at composition or rhetoric, then the best choice for you to maximize your skills would be to go into non-STEM areas, even though you would be more than capable of going into a math or science undergraduate degree,” University of Missouri Curators Professor Dave Geary said.

He said a person’s academic profile typically determines which career path they choose. Geary said there is a global pattern to which gender is better at certain subjects.

“On average most boys are better at science or math than they are at language arts and reading comprehension and it’s just the reverse for girls,” Geary said.   

Patricia Miranda, an engineering student at MU, doesn’t fit the global statistics. She made the decision to study chemical engineering because she feels it is what she is best at.

“I felt like I had very good teachers, so I was like ‘I can actually do math’ and a lot of my classmates from high school also chose engineering,” Miranda said.

She attended a high school in Zuila, Venezuela geared toward science and math. Miranda said this added to her natural skills.

“While choosing a major, I was also looking at different options, and I wasn’t very into humanities and writing papers and reading or doing things with my hands like art, so I took out the things that I am not good at and the things that I’m not interested in,” Miranda said.

Based on ability, academic strengths and interest researchers were able to identify the amount of women they think should be in the STEM field.

“We have a lot of girls and women that have math and science as their best subject, but fewer of them are going into STEM fields than you would expect and we don’t know what that remaining gap is due to,” Geary said.

A country’s wealth also plays a role, according to the study.

“In more liberal and wealthy countries, personal preferences are more strongly expressed,” Geary said. “One consequence is that sex differences in academic strengths and interests become larger and have a stronger influences on college and career choices than in more conservative and less wealthy countries, creating the gender-equality paradox.”

Geary said the concept is known as the “gender-equality paradox” because it would be assumed if a country is wealthier and has greater gender equality there would be more women in STEM, but that is not the case.

“In countries where there is more choice in education, high school and college education, the sex difference in the best subject actually gets bigger,” Geary said.

He said because people in wealthier countries have more freedom to choose their career path, it leads to people choosing what they are best at, not jut what will make them the most money.    

“In societies where you get a closer number of men and women going into stem fields, the economic and life circumstances are more risky, and STEM fields provide a more stable and safer economic safety net that isn’t provided otherwise,” Geary said. “It’s in those countries that we see more women going into STEM. We think it’s because it’s less risky for them, so it might not be based on their interest so much as practical concerns.”

Miranda said she believes more women in her country go into the STEM field because it is familiar.  

“Back home we have a very big Petroleum industry and everyone knows about that, so most people study engineering because they know what it is, and that includes men and women,” Miranda said. “They are aware and understand how it works. You’re informed enough to know how it works and to not be scared to chose it.”

Miranda is going to apply for jobs all over the world, but plans on heading to Europe after graduation.

“Technology is very advanced there and I know there is a very big STEM field there,” Miranda said. “I feel like for job opportunities Europe is the best place to go.”

Geary said the study can help schools and companies more accurately target women to study STEM. He said they should focus on women that fit a certain profile.

“We have a lot of girls and women that have math and science as their best subject, but fewer of them are going into STEM fields than you would expect and we don’t know what that remaining gap is due to,” he said.

Geary said the current tactics for recruiting aren’t working and suggests a more targeted approach based on the study.

“A lot of them are just a shotgun type targeting all the girls and all the boys and all the women. A lot of resources are poured into the effort and it’s just not working,” Geary said. “Things haven’t changed in two or three decades.”

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - People in mid-Missouri are doing whatever it takes to stay cool during the summer. That includes trash... More >>
29 minutes ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 2:04:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) - Four years after Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill co-sponsored legislation targeting tax havens such as the Cayman... More >>
44 minutes ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 1:49:00 PM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - A judge has turned down a Ferguson lawmaker's attempt to run for a seat in the... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 9:36:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Zoo has welcomed a baby giraffe. Zoo officials announced Tuesday that Beau was... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 7:18:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
FERGUSON (AP) — St. Louis County authorities say a 70-year-old Green Park woman died from heat-related issues when her home's... More >>
8 hours ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:29:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
KIRKWOOD (AP) — A 71-year-old St. Louis man and his adult son are both charged with assault for allegedly beating... More >>
8 hours ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:02:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Harry S. Truman VA Hospital is building a home to ease the burden of travel for veterans... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 3:00:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
FAYETTE - City leaders are working toward a solution for its volunteer-based fire department. The Fayette Board of Aldermen... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, June 20 2018 Jun 20, 2018 Wednesday, June 20, 2018 12:44:00 AM CDT June 20, 2018 in News
NEW BLOOMFIELD - New Bloomfield citizens are looking for answers after yet another city council meeting was canceled Tuesday. ... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 8:40:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Ryan Lee Gehris said he’s always loved to ride his bike. Lately, that hobby has turned... More >>
19 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 6:39:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
MEXICO - The Mexico Public Safety Department arrested two people and accused them of child abuse in Mexico, Missouri, following... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 5:31:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
MOBERLY - The Moberly Police Department has a new directory for people with autism, but some people think it shouldn't... More >>
22 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:49:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY – Crews recently broke ground on a new hog farm in Callaway County, and locals have strong opinions... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:06:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 600 members of the United Methodist Church have issued a formal church complaint against Attorney... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:01:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Radio Television Digital News Association has named KOMU.com best website in a small market for the second... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 2:48:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A punctured gas line caused large-scale evacuations in the heart of downtown Columbia Tuesday afternoon. Columbia Police... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 2:38:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Cole County judge says there are a few key legal questions to be answered before he... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 1:40:00 PM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY- Juneteenth brings communities together to honor the official ending of slavery in the U.S. One group in Jefferson... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, June 19 2018 Jun 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 11:17:00 AM CDT June 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 91°
3pm 87°
4pm 83°
5pm 81°
6pm 80°