Highlights

  • It is often believed that CS and engineering careers are better for boys
  • Stereotypes may be why women are underrepresented in STEM careers
  • 63% of students think girls are less interested in engineering than boys

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Societal stereotypes prevent women from choosing STEM careers

Stereotypes about what young kids should or shouldn’t like have a bigger impact on their adult life than we realise.

There’s a common perception that computer science and engineering careers are a better fit for boys. Even hit TV shows like The Big Bang Theory somewhat peddle the same belief.

But stereotypes about what young kids should or shouldn’t like have a bigger impact on their adult life than we realise. In fact, the notion that boys are more interested in computer science may be the reason why girls and women are underrepresented in STEM career fields, says a new study.

SEE MORE For the first time India has more women than men, shows govt survey

A survey of nearly 2,500 students found that 63 per cent of students believed girls were less interested in engineering than boys while 9 per cent think girls were not interested at all.

Published in the PNAS journal, the findings show that interest stereotypes were also linked to worse outcomes for girls. The stereotypes about girls’ disinterest in STEM fields lessens their motivation and sense of belonging in these fields whereas the opposite was true for boys.

Some may also ask that what if the stereotype is true? But scientists say the current belief system creates a vicious cycle, making it hard to gauge actual interests.

This is why it is important for parents, teachers and other stakeholders to promote the message that girls can enjoy STEM just as much as boys do, which will help draw them into STEM activities.

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