Women’s relative lack of participation in science, technology, engineering and math is well documented, but why women are more represented in some STEM areas than others is less clear.
A new University of Washingtonstudyis among the first to address that question by comparing gender disparities across STEM fields. Published Oct. 12 in the journal Psychological Bulletin, the paper identifies three main factors driving the disparity — and the most powerful one, the researchers conclude, is a “masculine culture” that makes many women feel like they don’t belong.
“There is widespread knowledge that women are underrepresented in STEM, but people tend to lump STEM fields together,” said lead authorSapna Cheryan, a UW associate professor of psychology. “This is one of the first attempts to really dig down into why women are more underrepresented in some STEM fields than others.”