Grey Notes: Debunking STEM Sexism

Why Brilliant Girls Tend to Favor Non-STEM Careers

Su et al (2009) performed a meta-analysis of studies including a total of over 500,000 people examining gender differences in interests. Despite claims that gender differences are typically “small” (Hyde, 2005), Su et al found a gigantic gender difference in interests. Women preferred working with people, whereas men preferred working with things, a preference that is detectable within the first two days of birth and among our close species relatives, rhesus monkeys!

Women who are smart have a tendency to to not choose STEM fields:

Lo and behold, there is not “pervasive evidence of” a gender gap in graduate enrollments, though there is a gap in some STEM fields. Completely consistent with the work by Su et al and by Wang et al, in nearly all fields that are about people, not only is there no gap disadvantaging women, there are actually more women than men! (Health, education, social and behavioral sciences, public administration, arts and humanities, and even biological sciences). The same report found that, overall, across all fields, the “gap” is in the “wrong” direction: 57 percent of enrollees in graduate programs are women.

The most commonly cited study (Moss-Racusin study), which shows some bias against women, is by far the weakest study and methodologically flawed.