While women are taking more science, technology, engineering, and math classes, their numbers are not increasing in the scientific workforce, says NPR's Flora Lichtman.
On Science Friday, Andresse St. Rose from the American Association of University Women tells Lichtman that high school girls and high school boys are taking the same number of credits in science, and that number is up from 20 years ago. Still, St. Rose and other guests on the program note, that typically is not translating to higher numbers of women pursuing STEM majors and STEM careers.
The panel then dissects why girls and women may appear to have lower interest levels in science — an interest that appears to wane around the end of middle school and the beginning of high school.
"I think that the sociological and the psychological literature on this is pretty clear in terms of all kinds of subtle discouragement that happens where girls from very early ages, beginning at the end of elementary school or even before, start to disidentify with science and math, start to feel that these fields are not things that they find to be interesting, that they find to be exciting," notes Catherine Riegle-Crumb, an associate professor of STEM education at the University of Texas at Austin.
Indeed, Linda Kekelis, the executive director of Techbridge, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of women and minorities in the science, adds that girls in their community have asked for a place to explore science and engineering without being teased. "You know, they want to make the world a better place and they're able to see role models in jobs that resonate with that and would allow them to be able to do that," she adds.