FACTS AND FIGURES ON THE RACE AND GENDER GAPS IN STEM
MATHEMATICS AND THE SCIENCES BY RACE AND GENDER
Studies have shown that gender stereotypes related to mathematics are pervasive among school children. In a 2011 study1, boys associated math with their own gender while girls associated math with boys. These stereotypes take root as early as the second grade.
In general, boys performed slightly better than girls in mathematics, but larger gaps exist along racial/ethnic backgrounds or family income. A 2012 study2
conducted by the National Science Foundation found that at grade 4:
- Scores for white and Asian/Pacific Islander students were at least 28 points higher than those for black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native students.
- The score for students from higher income families was 29 points higher than that for
students from lower income families.
- Students from private schools outperformed their peers in public schools by 14 points.
THIS RACE AND GENDER GAP IS ALSO EVIDENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION AND IN THE WORKFORCE.
- Only 19% of Bachelor’s degrees in engineering are earned by women.
- Women’s participation in engineering and computer sciences remains below 30%.
- In 2008, 12% of Bachelor’s degrees, 3% of Master’s degrees, and <1% of doctorate degrees in science and engineering were awarded to minority women.
- Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, with the greatest disparities in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences.
- Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs.
- One in seven engineers is female; and minority women represent fewer than 1 in 10 of
employed scientists and engineers.
HOW SCIENCE CLUB FOR GIRLS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
A 2007 study5 found that girls who learn about gender discrimination and about famous female scientists who faced discrimination increase their confidence in pursuing science and their belief in the value of science.
The Massachusetts Department of Education’s Accountability Report6 and underrepresented minority students in several school districts (Boston, Cambridge, Fitchburg, and Lawrence) are not proficient in math or in science.
Female high school students in Massachusetts7 are:
- More likely than students nationally to be interested in Science. (11.3% compared to 9.4%)
- Less likely than students nationally to be interested in Technology and Engineering. (1.5% compared to 5.8%; 2.6% compared to 11.7%)
- Just as likely as students nationally to be interested in Mathematics. (2.1% compared to 2.1%)
- 1 Cvencek, D., Meltzoff, A. N. and Greenwald, A. G. (2011), “Math–Gender Stereotypes in Elementary School Children.” Child Development, 82: 766–779.
- 2 NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2012. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/
- 3 NSF, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, 2011.
- 4 United States Department of Commerce, Economics & Statistics Administration, Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation, 2011.
- 5 Effects of Learning about Gender Discrimination on Adolescent Girls’ Attitudes Toward and Interest in Science. Weisgram and Bigler (2007). Psychology of Women Quarterly vol. 31 no. 3 262-269.
- 6 http://www.doe.mass.edu/apa/accountability/
- 7 STEM Connector: Where are the STEM Students, Where are the STEM jobs? 2012-2013. http://www.stemconnector.org/sites/default/files/store/STEM-Students-STEM-Jobs-Executive-Summary.pdf