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The 5 Biases Pushing Women Out of STEM

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An early math student demonstrating her potential.

New studies suggest gender bias is a key contributor to the scarcity of U.S. women in science, technology, engineering, and math.


Gender bias appears to be a key contributor to the scarcity of U.S. women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), according to new studies.

Recent research in conjunction with the Association for Women in Science suggests bias drives women from STEM--and the mechanism of this prejudice can vary according to a woman's race or ethnicity. For example, interviews with and polls of female scientists found 66 percent of respondents had to prove their competence repeatedly, with black women significantly more likely to contend with this type of bias than other women.

Another observed bias toward female scientists concerns pressures at work to play a stereotypically feminine role, especially for Asian Americans.

Meanwhile, nearly 66 percent of female scientists with children across all races and ethnicities reported coming up against a bias where they were offered fewer opportunities in the workplace.

A fourth bias pattern, which seems to be primarily applicable to black and Latina women, is self-isolation instigated by the perception that social engagement with colleagues could adversely impact views of their competence. Women who have run into discrimination early in their careers also may distance themselves from other women, creating a sense of competition and conflict between different generations of women.

From Harvard Business Review
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