Gender Roles and Stereotypes about Science Careers Help Explain Women and Men’s Science Pursuits

Gender Roles and Stereotypes about Science Careers Help Explain Women and Men’s Science Pursuits Diverse perspectives in science promote innovation and creativity, and represent the needs of a diverse populace. However, many science fields lack gender diversity. Although fewer women than men pursue careers in physical science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (pSTEM), more women than men pursue careers in behavioral science. The current work measured the relationship between first-year college students’ stereotypes about science professions and course completion in science fields over the next 3 years. pSTEM careers were more associated with self-direction and self-promotion (i.e., agency) than with working with and for the betterment of others (i.e., communion). On the flip side, behavioral science careers were associated with communion to a greater degree than with agency. Women completed a lower proportion of pSTEM courses than did men, but this gender disparity disappeared when women perceived high opportunity for communion in pSTEM. Men pursued behavioral science courses to a lesser degree than did women; this disparity did not exist when men perceived ample opportunity for agency in behavioral science. These results suggest highlighting the communal nature of pSTEM and the agentic nature of behavioral science in pre-college settings may promote greater gender diversity across science fields. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

Gender Roles and Stereotypes about Science Careers Help Explain Women and Men’s Science Pursuits

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-016-0647-5
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Diverse perspectives in science promote innovation and creativity, and represent the needs of a diverse populace. However, many science fields lack gender diversity. Although fewer women than men pursue careers in physical science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (pSTEM), more women than men pursue careers in behavioral science. The current work measured the relationship between first-year college students’ stereotypes about science professions and course completion in science fields over the next 3 years. pSTEM careers were more associated with self-direction and self-promotion (i.e., agency) than with working with and for the betterment of others (i.e., communion). On the flip side, behavioral science careers were associated with communion to a greater degree than with agency. Women completed a lower proportion of pSTEM courses than did men, but this gender disparity disappeared when women perceived high opportunity for communion in pSTEM. Men pursued behavioral science courses to a lesser degree than did women; this disparity did not exist when men perceived ample opportunity for agency in behavioral science. These results suggest highlighting the communal nature of pSTEM and the agentic nature of behavioral science in pre-college settings may promote greater gender diversity across science fields.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 20, 2016

References

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