A key hurdle to expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is its greater association with men than women, advocates say.
A study published by researchers at Northwestern University found people in the Netherlands were the most likely to associate science with men more than women. Lead author David Miller studied data from nearly 350,000 people in 66 countries who were measured on two types of stereotypes--explicit and implicit. Explicit gauged how much individuals associated science with men or women, while implicit measured how quickly they associated words like "math" and "physics" with words such as "boy" or "man."
Explicit stereotyping was strongest in the Netherlands, Hungary, Vietnam, South Africa, and Estonia, while implicit stereotyping was most prevalent in Estonia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. The U.S. ranked 38th for both explicit and implicit stereotyping, 39th for its representation of women in science majors (43 percent), and 10th from the bottom for its proportion of female scientific researchers (26.6 percent). In Iran, Albania, and Romania, women comprised more than half of science majors, while Argentina and Latvia had the highest representation of female researchers, with more than 50 percent each.
"Changing these persistent beliefs likely requires seeing female scientists across diverse sources, such as news articles, television shows, and textbooks," says study co-author Alice Eagly.
From U.S. News & World Report
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