Overcoming Women’s Hurdles in Science Will Stimulate the Economy

When it comes to interest in science, most people enter the world on a level playing field. Boys and girls alike experience a natural sense of wonder at the world around them. Whether watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon or watching a meteor shower while lying on the grass, children start life with the innate curiosity every scientist needs.Think of how they take things apart to see how they work, challenge one another with math puzzles and problem-solving games, and collect stray bugs and animals -- my own childhood choice, an opossum, is not recommended. So why, in later years, do so few girls and women wind up exploring careers in science and math? Culture and history, not nature, create most of the discrepancy between men and women in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Previously, our society saw no role for women in these fields, and such barriers take time to break down. Yet we know that school children are motivated to perform well in science and math, regardless of gender. And recent data indicate there's little to no difference in ability between female and male students --especially in countries where the culture values having both in the sciences.In declaring Feb. 11, 2017, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the United Nations highlights that just 28 percent of current researchers worldwide are women. The proportion in the U.S. is very similar. And in Texas, college-bound boys are more than three times as likely as girls to express an interest in a STEM major, according to The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America.  Continue reading...

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