20 August 2016
I ran across what I think is an important paper in PLOS One this week, and it involves women and STEM careers. Go to any science conference, and you see far fewer women than men, and this paper may have hit on why this is the case. In general, women do not seem to have the confidence that they can get through calculus, and make no mistake about it, it’s hard. It’s the weed out course for those who want to go into any science (Medicine seems to be Organic Chemistry btw).
The paper is HERE, but the gist as I see it is that social pressures from high school(or earlier?) seems to be giving women the idea that they cannot do it. If colleges pay attention to this, we just might be able to increase the number of women who go into the sciences.
This paper hit home with me because I was a lousy student in high school maths, and if it were not for one Okla Univ. Professor Dr. Hueneke, who ran a free tutorial, I would not have made it through college Algebra! So colleges listen up, and girls who are excited by science, get a tutor, and let me tell you that you CAN do it. I know a bunch of very bright women who did it and who are doing it now.
Do not give up, and universities, this is your opportunity to help.
I will not pretend this is the magic bullet to increase women graduates in STEM, but based on my own experience, there really is something to this.
Note: Good piece on this in Huff Post as well now.