Almost all data shows that in general, disparities in performance in mathematics, allied forces, and science between girls and boys increase as girls and boys are promoted from primary to secondary school. When mean scores are put in comparison by gender, a stark performance gap is observed in mathematics where boys have performed better. The gender gap in STEM between the two groups keeps growing further into high school. As students’ progress into secondary school and higher, the elections of subjects are based on societal norms and preconceived notions. There is a clear absence of Women and Girls in STEM at higher levels of education.
While analyzing the results clear indications have been made towards an absence of clear pattern in performance difference across genders and girls even seem to be performing better in several aspects of STEM. Individual test scores are also not very different and hence, the reasoning is not aptitude or interest towards the subject but other deep-seated taboos. The lack of women in STEM can be attributed to a plethora of factors.
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One very interesting finding that backs such absence of intellectual disparity is test scores on English. Since women have shown more comprehension skills in English Test which test reading and analytical ability at the same time, girls do not lack inference abilities or analytical abilities. Hence the difference arises due to societal pressure and stigma associated with women and girls in STEM. Poor language skills are not a reason for the gender gap in STEM.
Instead, key factors like
- Social and cultural upbringing including stereotypical ideas may be a cause of concern when it comes to girls and women in STEM.
- Pre-conceived notions and the BIMBO complex might be playing a key role here.
Developed countries show a lesser gender gap than developing countries.
What is a way out?
The lack of women in STEM can be done away with using positive intervention from schools and governments. For example, compulsory participation of women in science classes after secondary school or primary schools can be implemented to help bridge the gap. Positive reinforcements like allowing the students to read articles about female icons who paved the path for science can bring about positive change.
However, it is true that one should not be forced into studying what they do not want to pursue. It is essential that the women and girls in STEM have a genuine interest in the subject. Those that do have an interest must not be awarded away from science and math due to social stigma.