Responding to the Respondents: Why So Few? Women in STEM and IT

March 30, 2010 at 8:59 am 1 comment

This new AAUW report has come out at nearly the same time as the new report from Caroline Simard at the Anita Borg Institute on Senior Technical Women.  We’ve heard the general tune in these reports before, but the nuance and orchestration is different.  We’ve heard before that there are biases and cultural barriers that prevent women from succeeding in STEM fields.  What’s different is that these reports are responding to the respondents.  The AAUW report, for example, responds to a neuroscience-aware world that says male and female brains are different (ala Larry Summers), but shows that biology and “innate ability” alone doesn’t account for the rapid shift away from STEM fields by girls.  The ABI folks have told us before that female IT managers lose a lot of time to family responsibilities, but the new report shows that that time doesn’t take away from work time (as has been argued in comments in this blog) — the family time takes away from their social time.  The sum of these reports is saying, “Really — it’s the structure and the culture.  We’ve considered everything else.  The system and the people in it have to change.”

In an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law and business, why are there so few women scientists and engineers? A new research report by AAUW presents compelling evidence that can help to explain this puzzle. Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics presents in-depth yet accessible profiles of eight key research findings that point to environmental and social barriers – including stereotypes, gender bias and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities – that continue to block women’s participation and progress in science, technology, engineering, and math. The report also includes up to date statistics on girls’ and women’s achievement and participation in these areas and offers new ideas for what each of us can do to more fully open scientific and engineering fields to girls and women.

via Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics | AAUW.

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