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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Exposure to More Female Peers Widens the Gender Gap in STEM Participation

Exposure to More Female Peers Widens the Gender Gap in STEM Participation

"Our results show that women exposed to a higher proportion of female peers become less likely to enroll in STEM fields and more likely to enter health-related studies in college. Men also behave more gender-stereotypically when more female peers are present: they become more likely to enroll in STEM studies and less likely to enter health-related studies...

Not only are women exposed to more female high school peers less likely to choose STEM studies, they are also less likely to work in STEM occupations and they have lower earnings at age 36...

Women exposed to more female peers have more children by age 36. We provide suggestive evidence that about half of the effect of female peers on earnings is due to increased fertility and the other half is due to STEM participation. For men, we also find that peers affect fertility, but we find no impact on earnings...

For men, the effect of having more female peers is stronger for entering Math and Physics and ICT and Engineering, which are the most male-dominated, gender-stereotypical STEM subfields...

Male students achieve a higher GPA when they are exposed to a high school cohort with more female peers...

[The study] highlights the possibility that manipulating the gender composition in a given environment through affirmative action policies to achieve gender balance may have adverse and unintended consequences for fertility, gender segregation in college majors, and the labor market."

The data suggests that blaming male sexism is not viable, since more male peers makes women more likely to enter STEM. So ironically the best way to get women to go into and succeed in STEM is to put them in male dominated environments (it also suggests that men benefit from having women around, but usually people don't care about men anyway).

This also ties in to feminist anti-natalism.

Of course the feminist answer will be to continue fighting "stereotypes" and having quotas to force STEM to have a certain proportion of women (the STEM mother point is chucked there - of course confounding genetic factors are not considered).

Yet, since we know that greater gender equality (see below) leads to lower female STEM participation, this suggests that "stereotypes" are unlikely to be a major factor.

The More Gender Equality, the Fewer Women in STEM

"The issue doesn’t appear to be girls’ aptitude for STEM professions. In looking at test scores across 67 countries and regions, Stoet and Geary found that girls performed about as well or better than boys did on science in most countries, and in almost all countries, girls would have been capable of college-level science and math classes if they had enrolled in them.

But when it comes to their relative strengths, in almost all the countries—all except Romania and Lebanon—boys’ best subject was science, and girls’ was reading. (That is, even if an average girl was as good as an average boy at science, she was still likely to be even better at reading.) Across all countries, 24 percent of girls had science as their best subject, 25 percent of girls’ strength was math, and 51 percent excelled in reading. For boys, the percentages were 38 for science, 42 for math, and 20 for reading. And the more gender-equal the country, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, the larger this gap between boys and girls in having science as their best subject...

The gap in reading “is related at least in part to girls’ advantages in basic language abilities and a generally greater interest in reading; they read more and thus practice more,” Geary told me.

What’s more, the countries that minted the most female college graduates in fields like science, engineering, or math were also some of the least gender-equal countries. They posit that this is because the countries that empower women also empower them, indirectly, to pick whatever career they’d enjoy most and be best at.

“Countries with the highest gender equality tend to be welfare states,” they write, “with a high level of social security.” Meanwhile, less gender-equal countries tend to also have less social support for people who, for example, find themselves unemployed. Thus, the authors suggest, girls in those countries might be more inclined to choose STEM professions, since they offer a more certain financial future than, say, painting or writing.

When the study authors looked at the “overall life satisfaction” rating of each country—a measure of economic opportunity and hardship—they found that gender-equal countries had more life satisfaction. The life-satisfaction ranking explained 35 percent of the variation between gender equality and women’s participation in STEM. That correlation echoes past research showing that the genders are actually more segregated by field of study in more economically developed places."

This backs up previous research that girls who are good in STEM skills don't go into STEM because they can do other things, and that greater gender equality leads to greater gender differences:

Gender equity can cause sex differences to grow bigger

"Counter to the prediction of social role theory, in only 2 out of 28 traits examined by Schmitt did sex differences narrow as gender equity increased. In six traits, the sex difference remained stable, and in 20 traits it widened.

For example, women tend to score higher than men on personality tests for extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Gender equity tends to elevate all three of these traits, but it does so more in women, widening the average sex difference.

Likewise, men score higher than women for the “Dark Triad” traits of Machiavellianism, Narcissism and Psychopathy. Gender equity has the salutary effect of reducing each of these three rather nasty traits, but it does so more for women than for men, resulting in wider sex differences.

The two traits in which gender equity narrowed sex differences are instructive, too. Women are more likely than men to value resources and wealth in a mate. Gender equity reduces this preference, but does so more in women, narrowing the sex difference. And men tend to report a more unrestricted sociosexuality - fantasising about, attitudes toward and engaging in uncommitted sex - than women do. Sexuality grows less restricted with gender equity in both sexes, but more so in women, again narrowing the sex difference...

Many behavioural traits showed general changes for the better with increasing gender equity. Personalities take on more socially desirable forms. Couples emphasise love within their romantic relationships. Intimate partner violence declines. And rates of depression decrease. And yet the fact that sex differences in so many of those traits increased opens up considerable new space for empirical study, and for us to question dogma and doctine of all kinds about how sex differences arise."
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