In 1983, a social scientist named David Chambers published a landmark study on children's drawings. During the late 1960s and the 1970s, teachers asked nearly 5,000 children to draw a scientist. Features of those doodles included lab coats, eureka exclamations and, Chambers noted, “abnormally long sideburns.” A singular theme emerged: The scientists were men.
“Not a single boy in that study drew a female scientist,” said David Miller, a graduate psychology student at Northwestern University. Not very many girls did, either. Only 28 students drew female scientists — less than 1 percent of the students in the study, of whom 49 percent were girls.
The portrait of a scientist in a young person's mind, however, appears to be changing. In the past five years, Miller and his Northwestern colleagues reviewed 78 draw-a-scientist studies completed after Chamber's report. After 1980, 3 in 10 students drew women as scientists. Younger children, young girls in particular, were the most likely to sketch female scientists, according to the report published Tuesday in the journal Child Development.
Only 3 in 10 children asked to draw a scientist drew a woman. But that’s more than ever.
Last summer, researchers at Yale published a study proving that physicists, chemists and biologists are likely to view a young male scientist more favorably than a woman with the same qualifications. Presented with identical summaries of the accomplishments of two imaginary applicants, professors at six major research institutions were significantly more willing to offer the man a job. If they did hire the woman, they set her salary, on average, nearly $4,000 lower than the man’s. Surprisingly, female scientists were as biased as their male counterparts.
The “She Can STEM” campaign was put together by the Advertising Council in collaboration with General Electric, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Verizon.
The companies advised the Ad Council and the New York office of McCann Worldgroup, which did creative work pro bono, on the campaign’s development. Each also identified a female employee in a STEM field to be featured in the campaign, alongside women who work at Boeing and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Role Models Tell Girls That STEM’s for Them in New Campaign
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are popular topics on YouTube. Some channels that stream videos on these subjects have millions of subscribers. Most are hosted by men.
“There is a lot of discussion about YouTube being an unpleasant environment for female creators,” said Inoaka Amarasekara, an Australian researcher in science communication. “I wanted to see if that affected science communication on YouTube, and if that was something I could corroborate.”
In fact it was.
Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments
Last week, tech star than Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, told teen girls that tech needs them.
"I want you to know that there's a place for you in this industry, there's a place for you at Google," Pichai said on stage at the Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit award ceremony. "Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
But recent events at Pichai's own company, where a male employee was fired for arguing in a memo that his female coworkers were less capable in tech, highlight why many women still feel shut out of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
It’s no secret that men are overrepresented in certain technical disciplines. So is their self-confidence, a new study suggests.
The study, published this past week in the journal Advances in Physiology Education, found that male egos eclipse those of women among students asked to compare themselves with their classmates.
A male student with an average grade, for example, was predicted to see himself as smarter than 66 percent of his class, according to the study. A female student with the same grade was expected to see herself as smarter than only 54 percent of her class.
That difference is even more pronounced when students compare themselves with individual peers: Men were more than three times as likely as women to say they were smarter than the classmate with whom they worked most closely.
Do Men Think They’re Better at Science Than Women Do? Well, Actually
Ten years ago, girls were so scarce in high school computer science classes that the number of female students taking Advanced Placement tests in that subject could be counted on one hand in nine states. In five others, there were none.
Latino and African American students were also in short supply, a problem that has bedeviled educators for years and hindered efforts to diversify the high-tech workforce.
Now, an expansion of AP computer science classes is helping to draw more girls and underrepresented minorities into a field of growing importance for schools, universities and the economy.
Testing totals for female, black and Latino students all doubled in 2017, following the national debut of an AP course in computer science principles. It joined a longer-established AP course focused on the programming language Java.
Expansion of AP computer science courses draws more girls and minorities
Why are girls underrepresented in STEM classes and careers? What can be done about it? Author Annie Murphy Paul discusses that in this post. She is a contributing writer for Time magazine, writes a weekly column about learning for Time.com, blogs about learning for a number of websites and contributes to various publications. She is the author of “The Cult of Personality,” a cultural history and scientific critique of personality tests, and of “Origins,” a book about the science of prenatal influences.
As senior vice president of quality, regulatory and engineering services at Abbott, Corlis Murray oversees engineering and a $400 million budget at a company with 99,000 employees in more than 150 countries. And she is one of the only African American women who is a top engineer at a Fortune 500 company (if not the only one).
Murray is serious about recruiting more women and minorities into science and engineering, and she wants STEM-related companies to do more than they are doing.
In this post, she writes about her journey to the top position she has at Abbott and what other companies can do to diversify.
A leading African American female engineer:
STEM companies don’t do nearly enough to promote women and minorities
Studies found that in the developed world, women account for just 25 percent of graduates in information and communications technology, and 24 percent in engineering — even though women outnumber men in graduate schools over all.
According to a 2017 Unesco report, female student enrollment is particularly low in information and communications technology (ICT) at 3 percent. It is 5 percent in natural science, mathematics and statistics and 8 percent in manufacturing and construction. The highest is in health and welfare at 15 percent.
Making Gains for Women in STEM Fields Will Take More Effort
The research, entitled Mind the (STEM) Gap, was performed by Typing.com, a free service for teachers and students all about teaching typing and other tech skills—like coding. They looked at the US Census Bureau's American Community Surveys from 2015 and 2017 to determine where the gaps are widest and narrowest.
The study shows the gaps by state, according to the number of bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. It underscores one serious fact: Not a single US state has a population where more women than men have STEM degrees (though only 65 percent of STEM workers even earned a Bachelor's).
The states with the smallest gap: District of Columbia (6.8 percent) and New York (12.9 percent). The worst gaps are in New Mexico (22.5 percent) and Montana (22.3 percent).
Compared to 2015's numbers, the gender gaps have narrowed in some states (North Dakota was down 5.7 percent) and grown in others (Alaska was up 3.0 percent). DC's small gap for 2017 also came from a narrowing since 2015 of 3.6 percent.
STEM Gap: No State Has More Women Than Men With Tech Degrees