The study from the University of Houston and the University of Washington highlights the importance of stereotypes, which researchers say influence girls’ interest in these fields.
âThe gender stereotypes that say ‘STEM is for boys’ start in elementary school, and by the time they reach high school, many girls have made the decision not to pursue computer science studies. and engineering because they feel they don’t belong, “UH assistant professor and lead author of the report’s study Allison Master told ABC News.
The researchers interviewed 2,500 students in grades 1 through 12 from various racial and socio-economic backgrounds. According to a UH article, the results of these studies were combined with lab experiments to provide insight into the impact of stereotypes on children’s motivation.
The university shared that more kids thought girls had less interest than boys in STEM fields. Specifically, 63% of students thought girls were less interested in engineering than boys, while 9% thought girls were more interested in the subject, according to research from the university.
These models are also playing out in the labor market. While women represent almost half of the workforce, they represent only 25% of IT professionals and 15% of engineers.
Researchers say parents can help close the gender gap by introducing girls to engineering and computer science early on.
“What I hope is that parents and teachers won’t limit the opportunities we give children. And then we can start sending girls the message that girls love computer science and engineering. “said Master.
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