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Study Shows Pervasive Bias Linking Males More Than Females With Science


University of Virginia Associate Professor of Psychology Brian Nosek

"People on average have an easier time associating science concepts with male, rather than with female," said University of Virginia Professor Brian Nosek.

Credit: Jane Haley / University of Virginia

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that implicit stereotypes, thoughts that people are unwilling to express or not even know they have, can have a significant impact on gender equity in science and mathematics participation and performance. The international study, which involved more than 500,000 participants from 34 countries, found that 70 percent of people harbor implicit stereotypes that associate science with males more than females. In countries where the stereotype was believed the most fervently, boys achieved a higher level in eighth-grade science and math.

Implicit stereotypes may be a major factor in the under-participation and underachievement of young women in science. "We found a general tendency, across every country that we investigated, that people on average have an easier time associating science concepts with male, rather than with female," says lead investigator and University of Virginia professor Brian Nosek.

The study was part of Project Implicit, a research and education Web site that features the Implicit Association Test, which visitors can complete to measure their own implicit associations on a variety of topics involving race, gender, religion, and politics.

From UVA Today
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