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A 'stem' Parent Boosts Girls' Participation in Science Degrees


father and daughter

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers at the universities of Michigan and Arkansas recently conducted a study showing that having one parent or guardian work in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field makes it 11 percent more likely for girls to perform better in math classes and to enroll in a "hard sciences" college degree program. They also found this effect is larger for girls than for boys, although "results suggest there are additional barriers — not only math performance or perceived math ability — that could be stopping women from entering STEM," says University of Arkansas professor Gema Zamarro. Some additional barriers include gender stereotypes that break down if a girl has a parent in a STEM field.

In 2004, the researchers asked children to assess their own perception of their ability to do math and tested their actual math skills. Boys scored slightly higher than girls on average, but tended to rate themselves more highly than girls rated themselves.

From University of Michigan 
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