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(Gen) Women in Math, Science and Engineering

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject: (Gen) Women in Math, Science and Engineering Reply with quote

Approach to school affects how girls compare with boys in math

Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

More women are pursuing higher education and doctoral degrees than ever before, but women still are rare in the math-oriented professions. Yet, researchers say, girls perform just as well as boys on achievement tests and tend to earn better grades in math than do boys during the earlier school years.

A new study in the journal Developmental Psychology indicates that how girls and boys approach their schooling underlies the differences in math grades. It also suggests that although the girls' approach to school may give them an edge in the grades they earn in math, it may not buy them much when it comes to math scores on achievement tests because girls are not more confident than the boys about their skills in math.

The study examined 518 boys and girls as they went through fifth and seventh grades in three primarily white, middle- to upper-class school districts in Illinois. Using children's reports, researchers looked at how the children approached their schoolwork, including their goals and in-class behavior. The children also reported on how confident they were about their ability to do well in math. Researchers also reviewed the young students' grades and achievement test scores in math.

In the classroom, girls outperformed boys at both time points of the study, with the girls' grades rising over time, while the boys' grades remained the same, said Eva Pomerantz, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study was part of the doctoral work done by Gwen A. Kenney-Benson, who now is at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.

Concerns with outperforming others and engaging in disruptive behaviors while in the classroom, both of which characterized boys more than girls, were tied to lower grades in math by the researchers.

"This was due in large part to the fact that such competitive and disruptive leanings were associated with decrements in learning strategies such as preparing for tests, seeking help, and persisting even when things were challenging that led to higher grades," Pomerantz said.

Girls consistently used these learning strategies more than the boys did, the researchers found. It appears that, in contrast to boys, girls are more concerned with learning than with outperforming their classmates. They also engaged in less disruptive classroom behavior. As a consequence, girls used more focused learning strategies, giving them an edge over boys in terms of grades, Pomerantz said.

The researchers noted that the differences in grades between girls and boys disappeared once children's concerns with learning versus outperforming others, engagement in disruptive behavior and learning strategies were taken into account.

At achievement test time, however, girls' lost their advantage in math; their scores were the same as those of boys. After examining various factors, what stood out, Pomerantz said, was children's confidence in their ability to do well in math.

In the classroom, she said, children may be less likely to feel that they will be judged based on their gender, believing instead that their own behavior, knowledge and effort will determine their grades. Thus, she added, the girls' approach to schoolwork will pay off in the classroom, while the boys' approach will not. It also could be, the researchers theorized, that higher grades given to the girls reflect rewards from their teachers for better behavior.

During achievement tests, the researchers suggest, the environment changes. Removed for girls is the familiarity of the classroom, which is replaced with uncertainty and increased stress. In such a situation, confidence mattered more than in the classroom.

Because confidence was found to be a predictor of scores on math achievement tests, Pomerantz said, girls may not have kept the edge they had while in the classroom because confidence levels did not differ along gender lines.

It may be that while many girls are going on into higher education, they continue to steer away from "stereotypically masculine fields, such as science and engineering" because the "more competitive environment of these fields is not a good fit with how girls approach school," the researchers wrote.

"Consequently, even if the topic is of interest," Pomerantz said, "the girls' more learning-oriented approach may not match the work environment, where the atmosphere in these fields may provide a better fit to boys' more competitive approach."

Co-authors with Kenney-Benson and Pomerantz on the paper were Allison M. Ryan, a professor of educational psychology at Illinois, and Helen Patrick, a professor of educational studies at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Chicago-based Spencer Foundation partially funded the study.


Questions to explore further this topic:

What myths are out there regarding the differences between boys and girls in terms of mathematical and scientific abilities?

Is mathematical ability a genetic trait?

Are there women in the field of mathematics?

Are there women in the fields of science?

Are there women in the fields of engineering?

What are the common tools for motivation?



Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:31 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:07 am    Post subject: 20 of world's top women scientists honored in Paris Reply with quote

Edelman Public Relations
2 March 2006

20 of world's top women scientists honored in Paris for groundbreaking research in life sciences

Caltech biology professor receives 2006 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO $100K prize for North America; only prize that honors eminent women scientists at the international level
Paris, March 2, 2006– Today at UNESCO House in Paris, France, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, Chairman and CEO of L'ORÉAL, and Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, presented the prestigous 2006 L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science prize to five distinguished women scientists from North America, Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, and Latin America. Considered the "Nobel Prize" for Women in Science, the awards honor female scientists who are leaders in their fields. The 2006 L'ORÉAL UNESCO For Women in Science Laureates' have a combined 140 years of research experience that has major implications for global public health. This year's Laureates include :

Professor Pamela BJORKMAN (USA), Laureate for North America, "For her discovery of how the immune system recognizes targets". Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena. Bjorkman is being honored for her lifetime commitment to decoding protein structures, one of the seminal accomplishments in immunology and a major step toward new HIV therapies.

Professor Esther OROZCO (Mexico), Laureate for Latin America, "For her discovery of the mechanism and control of infections by amoebae in the tropics". Molecular Pathology, Experimental Pathology Department, Center for Advanced Research (CINVESTAV), National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City. Orozco's research discoveries have paved the way for the future development of a vaccine against Entamoeba histolytica, a parasite that infects more than 10% of the world's population.

Professor Habiba BOUHAMED CHAABOUNI (Tunisia), Laureate for Africa, "For her contribution to the analysis and prevention of hereditary disorders". Medical Genetics, University of Tunis. Chaabouni has fought for over 20 years to get medical gentics recognized as an essential discipline in Tunisia, a country with a high prevelance of genetic disorders and one of the world's highest rates of consanguineous marriage.

Professor Christine VAN BROECKHOVEN (Belgium), Laureate for Europe, "For her genetic investigations of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders". Molecular biology and genetics, University of Antwerp, Research Director at the Institute Born-Bunge, Scientific Director of the Department of Molecular Genetics, Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, Flanders. Van Broeckhoven is among the first to study the molecular genetics of neurological diseases and is considered the world authority on Alzheimer's.

Professor Jennifer GRAVES (Australia), Laureate for Asia/Pacific, "For her study on the evolution of mammalian genomes". Head of Comparative Genomics Research Group and ARC Centre for Kangaroo Genomics, Australian National University, Canberra. A former Fulbight scholar, Graves received her PhD in molecular biology from the University of California at Berkeley. Her research into comparative genomics (comparing Australian animals to humans) – demonstrates that the Y chromosome will be extinct in male platypuses in 10 million years. She has garnered worldwide attention for the bleak future she has predicted for the Y chromosome in humans.
The Laureates were selected by a jury of 15 eminent international scientists, presided over by Nobel Laureate Professor Gunter Blobel, from Rockefeller University, and Christian de Duve (formerly from Rockefeller University) of the Institute of Cellular Pathology in Belgium. Laureates are nominated by hundreds of respected scientists from around the world. The Awards recognize five Laureates, one from each of the five continents: Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Each Laureate receives USD$100,000.

"L'ORÉAL's' commitment alongside UNESCO in the For Women in Science partnership is a concrete expression of our firm intention to promote women in scientific research," said Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, Chairman and CEO of L'ORÉAL. "Innovation is a core value that has been nurtured since the Group's founding and we want to participate in the creation of new careers throughout the world."

The L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Award is part of the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program, a multi dimensional program consisting of three parts:

The L'ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards, the founding act of the program. These prestigious annual distinctions, awarded to five leading women researchers, one per continent, identify exceptional women as role models for the generations to come. Women in the life sciences and the material sciences are honored in alternating years.

The L'ORÉAL-UNESCO International Fellowships, granted annually since 2000 to 15 promising young women scientists, doctorate or post-doctorate, to encourage international scientific cooperation and the developing of cross-cultural networks. Fellows submit their postgraduate research projects to their country's UNESCO National Commission for consideration. Each national commission chooses two candidates, who are then judged by an international selection committee. Three recipients are named per region: Africa, Arab States, Asia/Pacific, Europe/North America and Latin America/Caribbean. The beneficiaries of the 2006 Fellowships can be found at

The L'ORÉAL National Fellowships with the support of the UNESCO National Commissions, which anchor the "For Women in Science" program in countries around the world, while respecting their particularities and specific needs. Every year, nearly sixty fellowships are allocated in some twenty countries.
Since the For Women in Science program's inception in 1998, 132 women from 60 countries have been recognized as either Laureates or Fellows for their contributions to scientific progress. The For Women in Science program works to encourage women scientists to persevere under sometimes challenging circumstances, such as social stigmas and gender biases. By giving women in science a public face, the program seeks to provide the next generation of women scientists with inspirational role models.

"The commitment of a group such as L'ORÉAL alongside an organization like UNESCO is a perfect example of the sort of partnership which we can engage in with the private sector," said Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO.

To commemorate UNESCO's 60th anniversary L'ORÉAL and UNESCO awarded a special tribute to Professor Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, 1995 Nobel Prize in Medicine, "For her efforts in supporting highly qualified women with children to facilitate their progress in science". The Tribute was accompanied by a $100,000 donation to the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation.

Nüsslein-Volhard created the foundation in 2003 to alleviate the difficulties that women face in reconciling family life and research. Through the foundation, she hopes to make a contribution to the advancement of highly qualified women in leading scientific research institutions. She is currently the Director of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany.

For more information on the Laureates, the L'ORÉAL-UNESCO partnership, or the Tribute for UNESCO's 60th anniversary, please visit:

L'ORÉAL is a worldwide leader in the cosmetics industry, developing innovative products to meet the diverse needs of customers in 130 countries worldwide. Over 3,100 people work in the Group's 14 research centers, located in France, Asia and America. Their findings are responsible for the registration of hundreds of patents annually. Women represent 55% of the research workforce – a percentage unmatched anywhere else in the industry.

Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has been dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. While designing scientific education programs intended especially for young women, UNESCO has created several academic chairs that connect women of science around the world. The international report on science, technology and gender that UNESCO will shortly publish is intended help its 191 Member States develop appropriate policies in this area.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:18 am    Post subject: Engineering companies urged to make room for 'gadget girls' Reply with quote

University of Edinburgh
9 March 2006
Engineering companies urged to make room for the 'gadget girls'

The classic stereotype of an engineer – a man who is brilliant at and passionate about technology, but not so good at dealing with people – bears little resemblance to actual engineers or their work, according to new research from the University of Edinburgh. These stereotypes hamper the engineering profession's efforts to recruit women, says Dr Wendy Faulkner who carried out the study.
Dr Faulkner, who interviewed and observed 66 men and women engineers working in a range of industries, says: "Women and men engineers alike get excited about technology –even though fewer of the women have a 'tinkerer' background. There are 'gadget girls' as well as 'boys and their toys' in engineering. At the same time, many different types of men and women enjoy engineering work – very few fit the classic stereotype.

She adds: "In practice, engineering encompasses a wide variety of jobs and roles. It is a 'broad church' with room for a diverse range of people. Yet the image of engineering – and often the culture – remains a narrowly technical, 'nuts and bolts' one.

"Retention is as important as recruitment –many of those women who do complete engineering degrees don't go onto engineering jobs or leave the industry after only a few years," says Dr Faulkner. "Part of the issue is that women who enter engineering have to become 'one of the lads' in order to fit in. Many subtle aspects of the culture, which may appear trivial individually, when taken as a whole have a 'dripping tap' effect – making it harder for women to belong, and get on in engineering."

The study shows in detail how topics of conversation, humour and social activities often reflect men's interest and ways of bonding. This can leave women on the margins socially, and make it difficult for women to break into the 'inner circles' that influence how the job gets done and who gets promoted.

"By contrast, engineering workplace cultures accommodate a range of men – laddish blokes, family men, pranksters, macho men, nerdy men, urbane men, genteel men – and so they are likely to feel comfortable to the great majority of men," says Dr Faulkner.

"If more women are to stay and progress in engineering workplaces, there is a strong business case for employers to introduce sustained and sensitive diversity training, to raise awareness of these kind of issues and to nurture more 'inclusive' workplace cultures in which everyone is comfortable," says Dr Faulkner.

A research briefing produced by Dr Faulkner is being circulated to engineering institutions and companies.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:44 pm    Post subject: Girls have big advantage over boys on timed tests Reply with quote

Vanderbilt University
25 April 2006

Girls have big advantage over boys on timed tests

Findings offer new insight into how to close boys' achievement gap
New research attempting to shed light on the evergreen question--just how do male and female brains differ?--has found that timing is everything.
In a study involving over 8,000 males and females ranging in age from 2 to 90 from the across the United States, Vanderbilt University researchers Stephen Camarata and Richard Woodcock discovered that females have a significant advantage over males on timed tests and tasks. Camarata and Woodcock found the differences were particularly significant among pre-teens and teens.

"We found very minor differences in overall intelligence. But if you look at the ability of someone to perform well in a timed situation, females have a big advantage," Camarata said. "It is very important for teachers to understand this difference in males and females when it comes to assigning work and structuring tests. To truly understand a person's overall ability, it is important to also look at performance in un-timed situations. For males, this means presenting them with material that is challenging and interesting, but is presented in smaller chunks without strict time limits."

The findings are particularly timely, with more attention being paid by parents, educators and the media to the troubling achievement gap between males and females in U.S. schools.

"Consider that many classroom activities, including testing, are directly or indirectly related to processing speed," the authors wrote. "The higher performance in females may contribute to a classroom culture that favors females, not because of teacher bias but because of inherent differences in sex processing speed." An additional question is whether this finding is linked to higher high school dropout rates for males and increased special education placement for males that do stay in school.

In their new article, Camarata and Woodcock focus on understanding differences in "processing speed" between males and females.

"'Processing speed' doesn't refer to reaction time or the ability to play video games," Camarata said. "It's the ability to effectively, efficiently and accurately complete work that is of moderate difficulty. Though males and females showed similar processing speed in kindergarten and pre-school, females became much more efficient than males in elementary, middle and high school."

The researchers found that males scored lower than females in all age groups in tests measuring processing speed, with the greatest discrepancy found among adolescents. However, the study also found that males consistently outperformed females in some verbal abilities, such as identifying objects, knowing antonyms and synonyms and completing verbal analogies, debunking the popular idea that girls develop all communication skills earlier than boys.

The researchers found no significant overall intelligence differences between males and females in any age groups.

The research will be published in the May-June 2006 issue of the journal Intelligence. Camarata and Woodcock compiled their results through an evaluation of three sets of data collected from 1977 to 2001 as part of the Woodcock-Johnson Series of Cognitive and Achievement Tests.

Camarata and Woodcock plan to conduct studies to measure actual brain activity using tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, and event-related potential tests to better understand which brain areas are playing a role in processing speed, and how these areas react differently in males and females.

"We know that there are different paths to competence, and we believe there are fundamental differences in how male and female brains end up getting organized," Camarata said. "Our next studies will give us some insight into where these processing differences are occurring."

Camarata is a deputy director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, a professor of hearing and speech sciences and associate professor of special education. Richard Woodcock is a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and a visiting professor of hearing and speech sciences. He is also a research professor at the University of Southern California.

The research was funded in part by an endowment from the Scottish Rite Foundation of Nashville and by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

For more Vanderbilt news visit VUCast, Vanderbilt's news network, at
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:54 pm    Post subject: BETTER GRADES AND GREATER INCENTIVES HELP EXPLAIN WHY WOMEN Reply with quote

19 September 2006
Ohio State University

COLUMBUS , Ohio –- Girls have long gotten better grades than boys in all levels of school. But while at one time few women used those academic skills to get degrees, new research suggests that growing incentives are helping draw women to college in record numbers.

That helps explain why, since 1982, women have outpaced men in college graduation rates. In 2004, women received 58 percent of all bachelor's degrees in the United States, compared to only 35 percent in 1960.

“What has changed is that more women are now using their longstanding academic advantages and translating them into college degrees,” said Claudia Buchmann, co-author of the studies and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

“In the 1960s and 70s, girls were getting better grades, but many young women were not going to college, or they were dropping out of college to get married. Now the benefits of a college education are growing faster for women than they are for men, and women are taking advantage.”

Buchmann conducted the research with Thomas DiPrete, professor of sociology at Columbia University . Their results appear in the August 2006 issue of the American Sociological Review, and the February 2006 issue of Demography.

In the ASR article, the researchers examined data about students from around the country participating in the National Education Longitudinal Study. These were students born in 1973-74, who were college age in 1992. They were followed through 2000.

“Women are more likely to graduate from college in large part because of their superior academic performance while in college.” Since the NELS data were collected, women have gained a lead in college enrollment, as well as graduation. In the fall of 2002, 55 percent of students enrolling in 4-year colleges were women.

The researchers found that girls did better academically than boys in both 8th grade and in high school. Still, boys were just as likely as girls to enroll in a four-year college (52 percent of girls in the sample, compared to 51 percent of boys). But women were significantly more likely to graduate. Overall, 63 percent of women who enrolled in four-year colleges graduated, compared to 55 percent of men.

And the advantage for women was not because they were taking easier majors, or because women used different pathways than men to graduation, such as starting at two-year colleges, the findings showed.

“Women are more likely to graduate from college in large part because of their superior academic performance while in college,” she said.

Buchmann noted that since the NELS data were collected, women have gained a lead in college enrollment, as well as graduation. In the fall of 2002, 55 percent of students enrolling in 4-year colleges were women.

The news is not all bad for boys. The number of young men enrolling in and graduating from college has risen in the past 30 years, but very slowly compared to the women's rate.

Results from the ASR study showed, however, that boys from some types of families are more likely to be left behind. The male disadvantage in earning a college degree is largest for those who grew up in households with a low-educated or absent father.

But the findings showed that women from families with a low-educated or absent father had the biggest increase in college enrollment and graduation.

“There were cultural changes in the United States for women born in the late 1960s, particularly those with less educated parents,” she said. “They started to see greater benefits in a college education, and they took that opportunity.”

Buchmann said it is unclear why young men were less likely to complete college in families with absent or low-educated fathers, but young women were not.

“It may be that some of these men are under financial stress to help support their families and leave college to get a job. Or perhaps they believe they can still get a good-paying blue-collar job without a college degree. We can't tell from the data,” she said.

“But this is a small part of the overall picture. The biggest reason for the gender gap in the graduation rate is that women are doing better in college.”

So if girls have long done better academically than boys in elementary and high school, why has women's college graduation rate only surpassed men's in the past 25 years?

Much of it has to do with the incentives for women to get a college degree, Buchmann said.

In their Demography paper, Buchmann and DiPrete studied data from the March Current Population Survey from 1964 to 2002. The sample included men and women aged 25 to 34.

In this study, the researchers found that women are now getting more from a college degree than are men.

“For all the types of returns except personal earnings, women's returns to higher education have risen faster than those of men,” Buchmann said.

For example, the standard-of-living gain for those with a college degree compared to those with a high school diploma was 13 percent larger for women than for men between 1990 and 2000, results showed.

Even though they are still not paid as well as men, with a decline in gender discrimination in the workplace, college-educated women are paid better now than they have ever been. And the benefits go beyond pay.

Compared to women whose education ended after high school, those with college degrees have a higher probability of getting married and staying married, and marrying a highly educated man with a higher income. Moreover, they have a higher standard of living, and greater insurance against poverty, the study showed.

In addition, women who get divorced have a better standard of living if they have a college degree.

“The generation of women who were born in the 1960s were the first to see their mothers getting divorced and having few options in the labor market. Many of these women were likely thinking they wanted to avoid that situation by getting a college degree,” she said.

With all these greater incentives to earn a bachelor's degree, it is not surprising that more women are choosing to go to college, Buchmann said. And their better academic preparation helps ensure that they succeed at rates greater than that of men.

The findings explaining the growing gender gap in the college graduation rate are most applicable to whites. While the gap also occurs among minorities, the same explanations didn't hold up as well in these populations.

“We need to do more research to understand what is happening with minorities,” Buchmann said.
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2007 11:42 am    Post subject: Stereotype-induced math anxiety undermines girls' ability to Reply with quote

University of Chicago
24 May 2007

Stereotype-induced math anxiety undermines girls' ability to perform in other academic areas

Study suggests impact for standardized tests
A popular stereotype that boys are better at mathematics than girls undermines girls' math performance because it causes worrying that erodes the mental resources needed for problem solving, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The scholars found that the worrying undermines women's working memory. Working memory is a short-term memory system involved in the control, regulation and active maintenance of limited information needed immediately to deal with problems at hand.

They also showed for the first time that this threat to performance caused by stereotyping can also hinder success in other academic areas because mental abilities do not immediately rebound after being compromised by mathematics anxiety.

"This may mean that if a girl takes a verbal portion of a standardized test after taking the mathematics portion, she may not do as well on the verbal portion as she might do if she had not been recently struggling with math-related worries and anxiety," said Sian Beilock, Assistant Professor in Psychology and lead investigator in the study.

"Likewise, our work suggests that if a girl has a mathematics class first thing in the morning and experiences math-related worries in this class, these worries may carry implications for her performance in the class she attends next," she added.

The results of the study appear in the paper "Stereotype Threat and Working Memory: Mechanisms, Alleviation, and Spill Over," published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Co-authors are Robert Rydell, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Allen McConnell, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Miami University.

Researchers have been aware that stereotypes can undermine achievement in schools in many ways, but little research has focused on the specific mental processes that prompt this response.

In order to examine those mental processes, the team selected a group of college women who performed well in mathematics. They were then randomly assigned to two groups, with one set of women being told that they were being tested to see why men generally do better on math than women, and the other group being told simply that they were part of an experiment on mathematics performance.

The information that men do better in mathematics than women undercut performance drastically. The accuracy of women exposed to the stereotype was reduced from nearly 90 percent in a pretest to about 80 percent after being told men do better in mathematics. Among women not receiving that message, performance actually improved slightly.

The researchers asked the women exposed to the stereotyping message what they were thinking during the tests and many of them reported being distracted by thoughts such as "I thought about how boys are usually better than girls at math so I was trying harder not to make mistakes" and "I was nervous in the last set because I found out that the study is to compare mathematical abilities of guys and girls." Women not exposed to stereotyping had fewer such thoughts of inferiority.

Further tests showed that the verbal portion of the working memory was the portion of the women's mental resources that was most strongly undermined by the anxiety. The researchers showed that women experiencing mathematics anxiety found it more difficult to do problems when they were written out horizontally than when they appeared vertically. Previous findings show that solving horizontal problems relies heavily on verbal resources.

In order to see if mathematics anxiety had any lasting impact on performance in the short term, the researchers again had women solve math problems, with half being told they were part of a test to determine why men generally do better in mathematics than women and the other half being told only that they were being tested for mathematics performance.

They then gave the women a standard memory test involving verbal information and found that the women did less well on that test if they were exposed to the mathematics stereotyping.

"We demonstrated that worries about confirming a negative group stereotype may not only impact performance in the stereotyped domain, but that this impact can spill over onto subsequent, unrelated tasks that depend on the same processing resource the stereotype-related worries consume," Beilock and her colleagues wrote.

The research was supported by grants from the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 2:48 pm    Post subject: Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science Reply with quote

Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 27 August 2007 02:10 pm ET

The days of sexist science teachers and Barbies chirping that "math class is tough!" are over, according to pop culture, but a government program aimed at bringing more women and girls into science, technology, engineering and math fields suggests otherwise.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 2:25 pm    Post subject: Why Men Dominate Math and Science Fields Reply with quote

Why Men Dominate Math and Science Fields
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 09 October 2007 08:39 am ET

Social scientists have studied it, lawyers have tried to fix it and post-feminist society is over it. But women are still outnumbered by men in math, science and engineering fields.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 1:18 pm    Post subject: Too Few Women Scientists Achieving Academic Leadership Posit Reply with quote

Too Few Women Scientists Achieving Academic Leadership Positions, According to Editorial in DNA and Cell Biology
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

New Rochelle, November 16, 2007 – As the U.S. continues to fall behind countries such as China and India in producing high-level scientists, one immediate and obvious solution would be to take advantage of the many women who have obtained doctoral degrees in science but have been passed over in their attempts to rise to the position of tenured professor, according to a provocative editorial in the November 2007 issue (Volume 26, Number 11) of DNA and Cell Biology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Click here to access the editorial free online.
Co-authors Jo Handelsman, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Editor-in-Chief of DNA and Cell Biology, and President of the Rosalind Franklin Society, and Robert Birgeneau, Ph.D., Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, contend that “a few significant changes in the academic system” in the U.S. could move more accomplished women scientists into positions of leadership, helping to balance the current gender inequality in the hierarchy of academia and to fortify the country’s overall scientific leadership. The Rosalind Franklin Society, established in early 2007 by Mary Ann Liebert, honors the achievements of the woman who pioneered the discovery of the structure of DNA by working to encourage greater opportunities for women in the biomedical sciences through education, mentoring, and advocacy.
Building on the findings of a National Academy report entitled “Beyond Bias and Barriers,” which attributes the lack of women in academic leadership positions to a combination of “unconscious biases” and “archaic university structures,” Handelsman and Birgeneau support the Academy’s recommendation for “educating the academic community about the insidious role of unconscious bias in decision-making.”
Furthermore, they point to the antiquated tenure system, in which women are often held back from advancing to tenured professorships because of child-bearing and family responsibilities, as being in need of reform. Relatively simple and straightforward changes such as tenure clock extensions, quality childcare, or job-sharing could enable an existing pool of talented and capable women scientists to move into the upper echelons of academia and scientific research and boost America’s competitiveness in research output across a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject: Gender roles and not gender bias hold back women scientists Reply with quote

Gender roles and not gender bias hold back women scientists
Heidelberg, 19 November 2007

Traditional roles of women in the home and a negative bias in workplace support result in less career success for women versus men at the same stage of their research careers, determined researchers at the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in a study appearing in the November 2007 issue of EMBO reports.

Despite the fact that more than half the European student population is female, women hold less then 15% of full professorships in Europe, according to the She Figures 2006 from the European Commission. While the percentage of female university graduates and PhD holders has increased, the gender gap is not closing at the same rate as careers advance.
The study authors, Ledin, Bornmann, Gannon and Wallon, were prompted to investigate whether gender bias was at the root of the lower success rate of female applicants to the EMBO Long-Term Fellowship and Young Investigator Programmes. Gender blinding of application reviewers found that gender bias was not the cause. A thorough investigation of the publication data of all applicants revealed that the performance gap widens even further between men and women researchers at later stages of their careers. This widening gap results in a 50% lower fraction of females applying as young group leaders to the EMBO Young Investigator Programme as compared to the number of female postdoctoral scientists who apply for the EMBO Long-Term Fellowships.

The EMBO Long-Term Fellowship Programme attracts scientists who completed their PhD training within the previous three years before application and are seeking financial support for post-doctoral research. Scientists at a later stage of their careers who are within four years of establishing their first independent laboratories can apply for support through the EMBO Young Investigator Programme.

Surveys of applicants found that traditional gender roles combined with a pervasive negative work culture appeared to be at the root of the lower success rate of women researchers versus men researchers.

The traditional gender roles are manifested by the facts that women take substantially more parental leave and more often adjust their careers in preference to that of their male partners. As a result women publish less and are slower to advance in their careers because on average they spend less time at work and have a greater burden to carry outside of the lab than their male counterparts at the same stage of their careers.

In the workplace, women scientists had fewer opportunities for mentoring, less supervisor support once they began to have families and there was a general lack of gender policy and monitoring in institutions.

The study authors ask whether employers, policy makers, scientists and society can afford to lose such a large number of trained specialists from the workforce. They conclude that both a shift in thinking about the roles of men and women and positive action in the workplace are required to ensure that family decisions do not prevent men and women from career and societal aspirations.

Through its Women In Science Programme, EMBO assesses and acts on imbalances in the scientific career path. EMBO monitors the selection process in EMBO programmes, alerts EMBO committees towards gender imbalance, devises actions to counteract gender imbalance and creates awareness in the scientific community.

The study publication A Persistent Problem: Traditional gender roles hold back female scientists appears online until 30 November 2008 at
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