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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Equality widens STEM’s gender gap

In gender-equal Norway and Finland, 20 percent of college graduates in science, engineering and math are women, compared to 41 percent in Algeria, which is not known for gender equality, reports Olga Khazan in The Atlantic. In countries where women have a free range of choices, fewer women choose math and science careers.

Women who face greater gender inequality may value STEM careers as a path to financial freedom, concludes a new paper published in Psychological Science by psychologists Gijsbert Stoet, at Leeds Beckett University, and David Geary, at the University of Missouri.

In the 67 countries and regions studied, girls did as well as boys in science, but boys were more likely to choose science as their best subject, while girls chose reading, where they outperformed boys.Girls’ verbal skills give them alternatives, University of Wisconsin gender-studies professor Janet Shibley Hyde told Khazan. “In wealthy nations, they believe that they have the freedom to pursue those alternatives and not worry so much that they pay less.”

U.S. women are a majority of biology majors, but a minority in “the computer sciences (17.9%), engineering (19.3%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43.1%),” according to 2016 federal figures cited by the National Girls Collaborative Project.

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