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

1 year 8 months 4 weeks 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
FULTON - The Fulton Board of Education met Wednesday to discuss language on the April 2020 ballot regarding several of... More >>
2 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 6:48:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - On World Kindness day, students and faculty at Russell Boulevard Elementary came together to honor former Columbia mayor... More >>
3 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 5:56:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
BOONE COUNTY - When you open the envelope from Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker's office , expect the numbers to... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 5:00:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Community members will meet at Columbia City Hall to discuss a possible new affordable housing development Wednesday at... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 4:42:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
LAKE OZARK - The bodies of a Lake Ozark couple were sent to Southwest Missouri Forensics in Springfield for autopsy... More >>
5 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 4:00:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Federal transportation safety investigators criticized the U.S. Coast Guard Wednesday for ignoring suggestions over... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 3:09:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
CAPE GIRARDEAU — A very special puppy from southeast Missouri is going viral for being a ‘unicorn.’ Narwhal has... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 3:00:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - After the snow settled on Monday, icy conditions took over the roadways and sidewalks. The ice covered... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 2:38:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Mobility Worldwide broke ground on their new manufacturing facility in front of a small crowd on Wednesday morning.... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 2:21:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Vaping has continued to be a rising issue in the United States and Columbia. According to the Centers... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 2:07:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — NASA says a meteor seen streaking through the sky behind the Gateway Arch in St. Louis... More >>
8 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 1:21:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in Continuous News
COLE COUNTY - A boil advisory has been issued for residents in Hickory Hill, just west of California, Mo. ... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 12:09:00 PM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County residents can help choose the design for the hottest accessory at the polls this year... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 10:06:02 AM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The LGBTQ community, along with several organizations, will celebrate Columbia's ban on conversion therapy. "Conversion therapy" is... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 7:29:00 AM CST November 13, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Russell Boulevard Elementary School will host a ceremony Wednesday honoring the life of a Columbia mayor who died... More >>
18 hours ago Wednesday, November 13 2019 Nov 13, 2019 Wednesday, November 13, 2019 3:24:00 AM CST November 13, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - One group is fighting to have citizens vote directly on whether or not they want more Missourians... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, November 12 2019 Nov 12, 2019 Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:27:00 PM CST November 12, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City Fire Department said a resident alerted firefighters to two people were stuck in a car... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, November 12 2019 Nov 12, 2019 Tuesday, November 12, 2019 8:59:00 PM CST November 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Dan White hasn't always been proud to recognize himself as a Vietnam veteran. "Things weren't very good... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, November 12 2019 Nov 12, 2019 Tuesday, November 12, 2019 8:58:00 PM CST November 12, 2019 in EmVP
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 37°
10pm 32°
11pm 31°
12am 30°
1am 30°