The “Mommy Factor” Does Not Explain the Gender Gap in STEM Fields

sasslerA new study led by Sharon Sassler, a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, found that when women planned to delay marriage and limit the number of children they wanted – which would let them focus exclusively on work – they didn’t get the same employment opportunities in STEM as men. Of those graduating with a STEM degree, 41 percent of women and 53 percent of men were employed in a STEM job within two years of completing college – a statistically significant difference.

“These women have the characteristics of the ideal worker. They expect to have few family distractions and work in STEM both within five years and at midlife. They really have strong aspirations,” Professor Sassler said. “But they were no more likely to enter STEM jobs than women who anticipated marrying young and having two or more children.”

Professor Sassler is a graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology and demography from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Sassler joined the faculty at Cornell in 2005 and was promoted to full professor in 2012.

The study, “The Missing Women in STEM? Assessing Gender Differentials in the Factors Associated With Transition to First Jobs,” was published on the website of the journal Social Science Research. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields


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