Explaining the Gender Gap in Some STEM Fields: Lower Mathematics Training in K-12 Years

A new analysis by Donna Ginther, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas and Shulamit Kahn, an associate professor in the School of Business at Boston University, offers a simple reason for the large gender gap in certain STEM disciplines. The two scholars say that women are not as well-trained in mathematics as men and this alone explains the large gender gap in STEM fields where mastery of mathematics is essential.

The analysis found that the higher the math score on the Graduate Record Examination required for entrance into the top graduate programs in specific STEM fields, the lower the percentage of women in those fields.

dginther100Dr. Ginther says that “girls not taking math coursework early on in middle and high school are set on a different college trajectory than boys. If you want to increase women’s participation, you have to really target your intervention at the source, and that source is young girls, not women in college.”

Dr. Ginther also serves as director of the Center for Science, Technology, & Economic Policy at the University of Kansas. Dr. Ginther holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in economics, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

KahnShulamitCo-author of the study, Shulamit Kahn joined the faculty at the Boston University School of Management in 1987. Earlier, she had taught at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Kahn holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields


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