News on Women in STREAM

Only 3 in 10 children asked to draw a scientist drew a woman. But that’s more than ever.

Washington Post

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.

How to get girls more interested in STEM subjects

Washington Post

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, 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. 

A leading African American female engineer:

STEM companies don’t do nearly enough to promote women and minorities

Washington Post

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.

Making Gains for Women in STEM Fields Will Take More Effort

 The NY Times


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.

STEM Gap: No State Has More Women Than Men With Tech Degrees

 PC Mag

The research, entitled Mind the (STEM) Gap, was performed by, 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.

Statistics on Women in Stem

National Girls Collaborative Project

Statistical data on the participation and success of Women in STEM analyzed from K-12 education to higher education to the STEM workforce. Also other factors such as race and ethnicity are included in the data. 

Some interesting facts from the data include:

  • Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 28% of the science and engineering workforce.

  • Female students' achievement in mathematics and science is on par with their male peers and female students participate in high level mathematics and science courses at similar rates as their male peers, with the exception of computer science and engineering.

  • Male students were more likely than female students to take engineering (21% versus 8%) and enroll in AP computer science A (77% vs 23%) however there were no significant differences in the percentage of male and female students take other computer science classes.

6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence

The Atlantic

Among the 5-year-olds, both boys and girls associated brilliance with their own gender. But among those aged 6 or 7, only the boys still held to that view. At an age when girls tend to outperform boys at school, and when children in general show large positive biases towards their own in-groups, the girls became less likely than boys to attribute brilliance to their own gender. You could frame that as a good thing: While boys continued to believe in their own brilliance, the girls, on average, developed a more equal view. But that view has consequences—Bian also found that the older girls were less interested in games that were meant for “really, really smart” children.

Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?

NY Times

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.

Role Models Tell Girls That STEM’s for Them in New Campaign

NY Times

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.

Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments

NY Times

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.

Gendered Packaging of a STEM Toy Influences Children's Play, Mechanical Learning, and Mothers’ Play Guidance

 Society for Research in Child Development

To study effects of the gender‐packaging of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) toys, mother–child dyads (31 daughters; 30 sons; M = 5.2 years) were randomly assigned to play with a mechanical toy packaged for girls (GoldieBlox) or boys (BobbyBlox). When familiarizing themselves with the toy to prepare for play, mothers given BobbyBlox built more with toy pieces than did mothers given GoldieBlox. During dyadic play, mothers with sons built more; mothers with daughters read the toy's narrative instructions more. Children's independent play likewise varied with game packaging. Girls learned the mechanical belt‐drive principle better from playing with BobbyBlox; boys learned the principle better from playing with GoldieBlox. Implications for gender‐schema theories, STEM interventions, and toy marketing are discussed.

How To Encourage Girls To Get Interested In STEM

 Huffington Post


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.

Girls Get Tech. They Just Need Others to Believe It

NY Times

New research explores how access to technology helps put girls on par with boys.

Among the study’s most fascinating takeaways:

Boys play games for fun, while girls use tech to learn.

Boys remain more confident in their skills

Parents give sons more digital freedom.

Do Men Think They’re Better at Science Than Women Do? Well, Actually

NY Times

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.

Expansion of AP computer science courses draws more girls and minorities

 The Washington Post


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.

How stereotypical cues impact gender participation in computer science

 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

People can make decisions to join a group based solely on exposure to that group’s physical environment. Four studies demonstrate that the gender difference in interest in computer science is influenced by exposure to environments associated with computer scientists. In Study 1, simply changing the objects in a computer science classroom from those considered stereotypical of computer science (e.g., Star Trek poster, video games) to objects not considered stereotypical of computer science (e.g., nature poster, phone books) was sufficient to boost female undergraduates’ interest in computer science to the level of their male peers. Further investigation revealed that the stereotypical broadcast a masculine stereotype that discouraged women’s sense of ambient belonging and subsequent interest in the environment (Studies 2, 3, and 4) but had no similar effect on men (Studies 3, 4). This masculine stereotype prevented women’s interest from developing even in environments entirely populated by other women (Study 2). Objects can thus come to broadcast stereotypes of a group, which in turn can deter people who do not identify with these stereotypes from joining that group.