Could one calculus class be affecting the STEM gender gap?

calculus__10__vectorized__24303__84413_1329422573_1280_1280Along with an overall skills gap, we also know there’s a big gender gap when it comes to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While women make up about half the workforce, they only hold about a quarter of STEM jobs.

 But why is this? Throughout grades K-12, boys and girls generally show equal interest and performance in STEM subjects. So why don’t these girls go on to pursue math and science careers?

 According to a new study on the STEM gender gap, a major exit point for women in STEM is the college course Calculus I. Men and women with the same abilities go into the class, but women are 1.5 times more likely than men to abandon their STEM majors after the class.

 Researches don’t blame grades, but a difference in the students’ confidence levels. The researchers interviewed both genders before and after the class, and concluded that the men interviewed were less likely to be dissuaded by a bad grade or other challenge related to the class. If only women would stick out the Calculus I class, and continue on with the support and encouragement of people around them, this one change might play at least some role in plugging the gender gap.

 If nothing else, the study’s findings hold an important message for everyone. Don’t let the learning process – with its normal and expected failures – deter you on the way to success.

 

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