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Girls and scientific studies: the conflictive relationship between the age of 6 and the university

  • Because of their perceptions, self-perception and experiences towards mathematical and scientific abilities since childhood, girls abandon scientific studies and choose different careers. This is what new research says.
15 urterekin “antsietate matematikoa” handiagoa da nesken artean; alegia, agobio sentimendu handiagoa dute. Argazkia: Freepik

24 April 2024 - 06:00

At the age of 6, both girls and boys believe that boys are “truly smart” and that mathematics is “boys’ thing.” Girls have worse self-perception of their own abilities, despite obtaining similar results in objective tests. By the age of 9-10, it's less than boys the girls who claim to have the preferred math subject, and the guys who say they're good at math, who learn quickly or enjoy math. The research was carried out by the EsadeEcPol Economic Policy Center, serving Spanish state students and STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

According to the study, at 15 years old, “mathematical anxiety” is higher among girls, that is, they have a greater feeling of exhaustion (which has been accentuated in the last decade): they express concern, tension and nervousness when performing mathematical exercises or thinking. Due to lack of confidence and this anxiety, girls get worse math scores (based on PISA studies) than boys at that age.

At the age of 15, girls who plan to have a STEM profession are less than boys, they prefer health and education professions.

The lack of confidence in mathematics related to gender roles and the lack of confidence of girls, combined with expectations, influences: they choose to move away from the scientific sphere

Notes are no reason

At the end of compulsory education, girls generally exceed more subjects than boys, even in the scientific field, and in the UAE study, STEM scores are somewhat better among girls than boys. However, the tendency of women to choose Arts and Humanities is greater, and research highlights that women who come to the field of sciences opt much more for biohealth than for the technological branch.

If the note is not an obstacle, why? The authors of the study indicate that the lack of confidence in mathematics related to gender roles and the lack of confidence of girls, combined with expectations, influence and, finally, the percentage of girls who choose to move away from the scientific field when choosing the learning itinerary is higher.

Result? There is no degree of university STEM in which the presence of women reaches half of the students; in Informatics and Mathematics, the percentage of women has decreased significantly in recent years (although in Aeronautical Engineering the presence of women has increased by four). In vocational training the imbalance is even greater. Consequently, women in STEM jobs are also less female than men (5.5% female versus 13% male). The study notes that in a decade the presence of women between 24 and 34 years of age in STEM jobs has doubled, but the starting point was so low that the percentage remains low. In addition, more women with some scientific degree end up in a position not associated with these studies compared to men.

In short, the research concludes that all this plays for men in working and salary conditions.


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