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Gender difference in STEM perceptions

(USA)

There is a gender divide in how a female student seen to be struggling in a STEM class is perceived, according to a new study.

The Dartmouth College study, published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, reveals that women would view external factors, such as ‘negative stereotypes and unconscious bias by a professor’ as potential causes of a lack of confidence in this situation, while men would say it’s most probably an internal reason, like a lack of preparation .

“As we look at the underrepresentation of women in STEM and the challenges that female undergraduate students face, it’s not simply enough to share experiences of bias and stereotypes, as each person interprets the world differently and may not necessarily perceive bias,” explains lead author Gili Freedman, a post-doctoral researcher at Dartmouth’s Tiltfactor lab. “The way students perceive each other affects classroom dynamics and may reinforce feelings of anxiety and bias. For example, if a male student perceives a female student as struggling in a STEM class due to factors such as a lack of preparation, he may be less inclined to want to work with her in a group project than if he thinks that she is struggling due to instructor bias.”

Innovators Magazine is hosting a Twitter Chat with Knowledge4Innovation on 22 March at 1pm CET, to discuss gender equality in STEM. Join us on Thursday and share your opinions on this topic.

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