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Countries With Greater Gender Equality Have Lower Percentage of Female STEM Graduates, Study Finds


female at keyboard

Countries lauded for their high levels of gender equality have relatively few women among their STEM graduates, researchers say.

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) and Leeds Beckett University in the U.K. found as societies become wealthier and more gender-equal, women are less likely to obtain degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. They also discovered a near-universal sex difference in academic strengths and weaknesses that contributes to the STEM gap.

The researchers determined throughout the world, boys' academic strengths tend to be in science or math, while girls' strengths tend to be in reading. These differences, as well as a general interest in science, could explain why the gender differences in STEM fields have been stable for decades and why previous strategies to address them have failed.

MU professor David Gear says the researchers "analyzed data on 475,000 adolescents across 67 countries or regions and found that while boys' and girls' achievements in STEM subjects were broadly similar in all countries, science was more likely to be boys' best subject."

From University of Missouri
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