Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why Aren't More Girls Attracted To Physics?

This is not a new topic. In fact, I'm sure it has been discussed, published, and talked about many other times. I've also posted several items on this, including this one about the shortage of women physicists.

The latest study aims at understanding why girls aren't not as interested in physics as boys.

But when Riegle-Crumb controlled for those and other possibilities, she found one reason remained: "What we found is that in communities that had a higher percentage of women in the labor force who are working in science, technology, engineering and math, that in those schools, girls were as likely as boys to take physics, or even more likely."

Riegle-Crumb's finding about the importance of local role models meshes with a broad range of that shows the decision to pursue math and science is not about innate differences between boys and girls, but about and norms. Countries with greater , for example, reveal more equal math test scores among boys and girls.

This is interesting. In my participation on the various outreach program to get girls to go into science/engineering, I've asked these girls many times on whether it was important for them to have a female role model before the chose a career. Fascinatingly enough, the overwhelming majority of the girls said no! Those who said no told me that in this day and age, they are used to the idea that they can pursue whatever career that they want.

Now, I'm not saying that anecdotal accounts contradict the study. I think the girls who showed up or have been selected to participate in many of the events that I attended were already from an environment in which they no longer significantly need role models. So my observation can definitely be skewered. This study clearly shows that there is a significant influence on having a role model within the environment that the girls live in.



Unknown said...

I'm a 31 year old mother and housewife who is just getting back to school now.. I'd love to see a female physicist who started later in life. The only thing stopping me is my insecurities.

monica said...

I am 21.. a physics student from india. I couldn't be interested in anything more than physics. it has never seized to surprise me. but given that not many people would support me for my carrier choice in physics sometimes pulls me back from trying to get where I want..