• Sat, Apr 14 2012

Where Are All The Women In Science? This Graphic Shows You

We know there has been a decline of women getting jobs in the STEM industry and now we have a helpful graphic to show us from Engineering Degree. This study shows that young girls start off performing much better than their male peers early on but their scores start to decline in adolescence mostly because they think it not very feminine to like science. They then start to lose confidence in their abilities. And even if they major in a STEM field in college there is a profound drop-off rate that occurs with women in these fields. “In a room of 25 engineers only 3 will be women,” according to the graphic.

A survey by the Bayer Corporation came out today showing that American women entering college are the best prepared academically to hit the books and successfully graduate with a STEM degree (82%), according to a survey of faculty from the nation’s top 200 research universities who chair STEM departments. However, many of these women don’t end up graduating with these degrees. The chairs say being discouraged from a STEM career is still an issue today for both female and underrepresented minority (URM) STEM undergraduate students (59%) and that traditional rigorous introductory instructional approaches that “weed out” students early on from STEM studies are generally harmful and more so to URM (56%) and female (27%) students compared to majority students (i.e. Caucasian and Asian males). Check out the graphic for more staggering information about the women in science disparity.

 

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  • Lastango

    Meredith, you focus on outcomes like, “In a room of 25 engineers only 3 will be women,” and wonder how that can be so when women have about the same general level of math ability as men, and get better grades in school.

    The yardstick you are using is the wrong one. Let me explain.

    Suppose we graph the distribution of math ability for men and women. The averages (the hump in the middle of the two curves) will be in roughly the same place. That is, the averages are about the same.

    However, the middle of the curve is not where working scientists come from. People who have sufficient talent to make science their profession come from the extreme right-hand end of the curve, where math ability is very high. As a generalization, out at that end, men outnumber women by something like five to one. The farther out to the right we go, the bigger the spread. According to one source, at a distance of 3 standard deviations from average, the ratio is 7:1. At 4 SD, the ratio is 30:1. (The same is true at the other end of the curves, where more men than women have very low math ability.) The more math-intensive the field (i.e. physics) the fewer the women.

    All of which brings us back to the matter of “weeding out” students. What seems like discrimination might just be reality. For people of less than stellar natural ability, there is little future in the hard sciences. There is no way to change that, no matter how strong their study habits or how hard they work.

  • Stephanie

    Is there such a thing as “Infographic Trolling?” Because that’s what the maker of this graphic and a similar one about the TSA on Boing Boing are doing. This is an ad disguised as news.