Women With High Math and Verbal Abilities Tend to Pursue Careers Outside of STEM Fields

3.coverA study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan finds that women who have high-level skills in both mathematics and verbal ability tend to choose careers outside of the so-called STEM fields. Women with high skill levels in mathematics but lower abilities in verbal skills are the ones who tend to pursue careers in STEM disciplines.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, concludes that to close the gender gap in STEM fields, more effort must be made to convince women with high levels of skills in both areas to choose careers in scientific disciplines.

Ming-Te Wang, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and lead author of the study states, “Our study suggests that it’s not lack of ability or difference in ability that orients females to pursue non-STEM careers but the fact that they can consider a wider range of occupations because of their combination of excellent math and verbal skills. This highlights the need for educators and policy makers to shift the focus away from trying to strengthen girls’ STEM-related abilities and instead tap the potential of these girls who are highly skilled in both the math and verbal domains to go into STEM fields.”

Dr. Wang continued, “We need to make sure girls and women — especially those with the combination of high math and high verbal skills — are well informed regarding the full diversity of options available in STEM careers. We want them to see the value in these disciplines so they won’t shy away from science- or math-related careers because of lack of information, misinformation, or stereotypes.”

The study, “No Lack of Ability but More Choice: Individual and Gender Differences in Choice of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” may be accessed here.


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