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The Origin of Silicon Valley's Gender Problem

females in the lab

Credit: Flickr

About 25 percent of boys and 24 percent of girls expect to be working in a science-related occupation in their 30s, according to the results of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment test. However, more boys expect to be engineers, scientists, or architects, while more girls hope to work in health, and less than 1 percent of girls expect to pursue a career in information technology (IT).

Many in Silicon Valley believe an historic underrepresentation of women in IT is due to too few women studying the discipline compared to men. The OECD found a strong correlation between children's interest in pursuing a science career and their performance in the subject in school, with boys generally outperforming girls. The report also notes "gender stereotypes about scientists and about work in science-related occupations can discourage some students from engaging further with science."

Schools are the starting point for reforming and dispelling these stereotypes and encouraging more gender parity in science. "Expanding students' awareness about the utility of science beyond teaching and research occupations can help build a more inclusive view of science, from which fewer students feel excluded," the OECD says.

From Quartz
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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