Special Issue "Gender and STEM: Understanding Segregation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Maria Charles

Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9430, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Gender, Educational and Occupational Inequalities, Global and Transnational Sociology, Cultural Ideologies and Stereotypes
Guest Editor
Prof. Sarah Thébaud

Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9430, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Gender inequality, Organizations and Work, Social Psychology, Entrepreneurship, Families

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will feature empirical studies on the causes and consequences of women’s underrepresentation in scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) occupations and fields of study. Although women have made great strides in gaining access to labor markets and systems of higher education around the world, many STEM fields—particularly in the physical sciences and engineering—remain strongly male dominated in reputably gender-progressive societies. The goal of this volume is to apply diverse theoretical lenses and methodological approaches to understand the individual, interactional, organizational, structural, and cultural dynamics underlying gender segregation of STEM fields, including how gender interacts with racial, ethnic, class, and/or sexual identities, and how these dynamics vary across time, across societies, and across organizational contexts. Submissions should engage with the existing literature on this topic and be written in a nontechnical style accessible to a broad interdisciplinary audience.

Prof. Maria Charles
Prof. Sarah Thébaud
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Gender
  • STEM
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Segregation
  • Inequality
  • Women
  • Men

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Entry and Degree Attainment in STEM: The Intersection of Gender and Race/Ethnicity
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 89; doi:10.3390/socsci6030089
Received: 26 September 2016 / Revised: 10 July 2017 / Accepted: 26 July 2017 / Published: 8 August 2017
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Abstract
This study focused on entry to and attainment of bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by examining gender and race/ethnicity in an intersectional manner and paying particular attention to STEM subfields. The intersectional analysis extends previous research findings that
[...] Read more.
This study focused on entry to and attainment of bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by examining gender and race/ethnicity in an intersectional manner and paying particular attention to STEM subfields. The intersectional analysis extends previous research findings that female students are more likely to persist in college once they are in a STEM field and further reveals that racial minority women share the same tendency of persistence with white women. Women and racial minorities are most under-represented in physical-STEM fields. Our analysis reveals that black men would have had the highest probability to graduate in physical-STEM fields, had they had the family socioeconomic background and academic preparations of Asian males. This highlights the critical importance of family socioeconomic background and academic preparations, which improves the odds for STEM degree attainment for all groups. Out of these groups, black students would have experienced the most drastic progress. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Tale of Two Majors: Explaining the Gender Gap in STEM Employment among Computer Science and Engineering Degree Holders
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(3), 69; doi:10.3390/socsci6030069
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 20 June 2017 / Accepted: 26 June 2017 / Published: 3 July 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1939 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We examine factors contributing to the gender gap in employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among men and women with bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering, the two largest and most male-dominated STEM fields. Data come from the National Science
[...] Read more.
We examine factors contributing to the gender gap in employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among men and women with bachelor’s degrees in computer science and engineering, the two largest and most male-dominated STEM fields. Data come from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT) from 1995 to 2008. Different factors are associated with persistence in STEM jobs among computer science and engineering degree holders. Conditional on receiving a degree in computer science, women are 14 percentage points less likely to work in STEM than their male counterparts. Controlling for demographic and family characteristics did little to change this gender gap. Women with degrees in engineering are approximately 8 percentage points less likely to work in STEM than men, although about half of this gap is explained by observed differences between men and women. We document a widening gender gap in STEM employment in computer science, but this gender gap narrows across college cohorts among those with degrees in engineering. Among recent computer science graduates, the gender gap in STEM employment for white, Hispanic, and black women relative to white men is even larger than for older graduates. Gender and race gaps in STEM employment for recent cohorts of engineering graduates are generally small, though younger Asian women and men no longer have an employment advantage relative to white men. Our results suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to increasing women’s representation in the most male-dominated STEM fields may not work. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Making STEM “Family Friendly”: The Impact of Perceiving Science Careers as Family-Compatible
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 61; doi:10.3390/socsci6020061
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 26 May 2017 / Accepted: 3 June 2017 / Published: 11 June 2017
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Abstract
Two studies extended the communal goal congruity perspective to examine perceived incongruity between science careers and family caregiving goals. Study 1 examined beliefs about science careers among young adolescents, older adolescents, and young adults. Science careers were perceived as unlikely to afford family
[...] Read more.
Two studies extended the communal goal congruity perspective to examine perceived incongruity between science careers and family caregiving goals. Study 1 examined beliefs about science careers among young adolescents, older adolescents, and young adults. Science careers were perceived as unlikely to afford family goals, and this belief emerged more strongly with age cohort. Study 1 also documented that the perception that science affords family goals predicts interest in pursuing science. Study 2 then employed an experimental methodology to investigate the impact of framing a science career as integrated with family life or not. For family-oriented women, the family-friendly framing of science produced greater personal favorability toward pursuing a science career. In addition, perceived fulfilment of the scientist described predicted personal favorability toward a science career path. We discuss the implications of these findings for research and for policy. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Science Possible Selves and the Desire to be a Scientist: Mindsets, Gender Bias, and Confidence during Early Adolescence
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 55; doi:10.3390/socsci6020055
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 25 April 2017 / Accepted: 24 May 2017 / Published: 31 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (691 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the United States, gender gaps in science interest widen during the middle school years. Recent research on adults shows that gender gaps in some academic fields are associated with mindsets about ability and gender-science biases. In a sample of 529 students in
[...] Read more.
In the United States, gender gaps in science interest widen during the middle school years. Recent research on adults shows that gender gaps in some academic fields are associated with mindsets about ability and gender-science biases. In a sample of 529 students in a U.S. middle school, we assess how explicit boy-science bias, science confidence, science possible self (belief in being able to become a scientist), and desire to be a scientist vary by gender. Guided by theories and prior research, we use a series of multivariate logistic regression models to examine the relationships between mindsets about ability and these variables. We control for self-reported science grades, social capital, and race/ethnic minority status. Results show that seeing academic ability as innate (“fixed mindsets”) is associated with boy-science bias, and that younger girls have less boy-science bias than older girls. Fixed mindsets and boy-science bias are both negatively associated with a science possible self; science confidence is positively associated with a science possible self. In the final model, high science confident and having a science possible self are positively associated with a desire to be a scientist. Facilitating growth mindsets and countering boy-science bias in middle school may be fruitful interventions for widening participation in science careers. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Weeded Out? Gendered Responses to Failing Calculus
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 47; doi:10.3390/socsci6020047
Received: 10 September 2016 / Revised: 6 April 2017 / Accepted: 21 April 2017 / Published: 10 May 2017
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Abstract
Although women graduate from college at higher rates than men, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This study examines whether women react to failing a STEM weed-out course by switching to a non-STEM major and graduating with a
[...] Read more.
Although women graduate from college at higher rates than men, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This study examines whether women react to failing a STEM weed-out course by switching to a non-STEM major and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in a non-STEM field. While competitive courses designed to weed out potential STEM majors are often invoked in discussions around why students exit the STEM pipeline, relatively little is known about how women and men react to failing these courses. We use detailed individual-level data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) Postsecondary Transcript Study (PETS): 1988–2000 to show that women who failed an introductory calculus course are substantially less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree in STEM. In doing so, we provide evidence that weed-out course failure might help us to better understand why women are less likely to earn degrees. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Gendered Perceptions of Cultural and Skill Alignment in Technology Companies
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(2), 45; doi:10.3390/socsci6020045
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 25 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
Previous research documents how stereotypes discourage young women from choosing and attaining technology jobs. We build off this research and ask whether (and how) stereotypes continue to affect men and women once they enter the technology workforce. Using a novel survey of technical
[...] Read more.
Previous research documents how stereotypes discourage young women from choosing and attaining technology jobs. We build off this research and ask whether (and how) stereotypes continue to affect men and women once they enter the technology workforce. Using a novel survey of technical employees from seven Silicon Valley firms and new measures of what we call “cultural” and “skill” alignment, we show that men are more likely than women to believe they possess the stereotypical traits and skills of a successful tech employee. We find that cultural alignment is especially important: because women are less likely than men to believe they match the cultural image of successful tech workers, they are less likely to identify with the tech profession, less likely to report positive supervisor treatment, and more likely to consider switching career fields. This paper is the first to use unique and independent measures of cultural and skill alignment comparing employees’ perceptions of themselves to their perceptions of an ideal successful worker. By allowing cultural and skill alignment to operate separately, we are able to determine which work outcomes are most strongly related to each form of alignment. Our results imply that if we can broaden the cultural image of a successful tech worker, women may be more likely to feel like they belong in technology environments, ultimately increasing their retention in tech jobs. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Gender in Engineering Departments: Are There Gender Differences in Interruptions of Academic Job Talks?
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 29; doi:10.3390/socsci6010029
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 28 December 2016 / Accepted: 1 March 2017 / Published: 14 March 2017
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Abstract
We use a case study of job talks in five engineering departments to analyze the under-studied area of gendered barriers to finalists for faculty positions. We focus on one segment of the interview day of short-listed candidates invited to campus: the “job talk”,
[...] Read more.
We use a case study of job talks in five engineering departments to analyze the under-studied area of gendered barriers to finalists for faculty positions. We focus on one segment of the interview day of short-listed candidates invited to campus: the “job talk”, when candidates present their original research to the academic department. We analyze video recordings of 119 job talks across five engineering departments at two Research 1 universities. Specifically, we analyze whether there are differences by gender or by years of post-Ph.D. experience in the number of interruptions, follow-up questions, and total questions that job candidates receive. We find that, compared to men, women receive more follow-up questions and more total questions. Moreover, a higher proportion of women’s talk time is taken up by the audience asking questions. Further, the number of questions is correlated with the job candidate’s statements and actions that reveal he or she is rushing to present their slides and complete the talk. We argue that women candidates face more interruptions and often have less time to bring their talk to a compelling conclusion, which is connected to the phenomenon of “stricter standards” of competence demanded by evaluators of short-listed women applying for a masculine-typed job. We conclude with policy recommendations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Collaboration and Gender Equity among Academic Scientists
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 25; doi:10.3390/socsci6010025
Received: 26 September 2016 / Revised: 16 December 2016 / Accepted: 17 February 2017 / Published: 4 March 2017
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Abstract
Universities were established as hierarchical bureaucracies that reward individual attainment in evaluating success. Yet collaboration is crucial both to 21st century science and, we argue, to advancing equity for women academic scientists. We draw from research on gender equity and on collaboration in
[...] Read more.
Universities were established as hierarchical bureaucracies that reward individual attainment in evaluating success. Yet collaboration is crucial both to 21st century science and, we argue, to advancing equity for women academic scientists. We draw from research on gender equity and on collaboration in higher education, and report on data collected on one campus. Sixteen focus group meetings were held with 85 faculty members from STEM departments, separated by faculty rank and gender (i.e., assistant professor men, full professor women). Participants were asked structured questions about the role of collaboration in research, career development, and departmental decision-making. Inductive analyses of focus group data led to the development of a theoretical model in which resources, recognition, and relationships create conditions under which collaboration is likely to produce more gender equitable outcomes for STEM faculty. Ensuring women faculty have equal access to resources is central to safeguarding their success; relationships, including mutual mentoring, inclusion and collegiality, facilitate women’s careers in academia; and recognition of collaborative work bolsters women’s professional advancement. We further propose that gender equity will be stronger in STEM where resources, relationships, and recognition intersect—having multiplicative rather than additive effects. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Gender Differences in the Early Employment Outcomes of STEM Doctorates
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 24; doi:10.3390/socsci6010024
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 4 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (667 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The representation of women among STEM doctorates has grown over the past decades but the underrepresentation of women in the STEM labor force persists. This paper examines the immediate post-degree employment outcomes of nine cohorts of STEM doctorates who attained their degrees between
[...] Read more.
The representation of women among STEM doctorates has grown over the past decades but the underrepresentation of women in the STEM labor force persists. This paper examines the immediate post-degree employment outcomes of nine cohorts of STEM doctorates who attained their degrees between 1995 and 2013. The results reveal both progress toward gender equity and persistent inequities. Contrary to historical gender disparities, a small female advantage has emerged in the attainment of tenure-track faculty positions, women are increasingly less likely than men to enter postdoctoral positions, and the flow of STEM doctorates into business and industry, which was once male dominated, is now gender neutral. Among the doctorates who do not follow the doctorate-to-faculty career path, women are as likely as men to “stay in STEM,” but less likely to attain research-oriented jobs. Gender segregation in occupational attainment and significant gender gaps in earnings, however, continue to be defining characteristics of the STEM labor force. The results show that the labor market disparities vary across STEM fields but are largely not attributable to the gendered impact of parenthood and dual-career marriage. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Perceptions of the Social Relevance of Science: Exploring the Implications for Gendered Patterns in Expectations of Majoring in STEM Fields
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 19; doi:10.3390/socsci6010019
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 9 January 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (927 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Despite efforts to increase participation in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM), the role of students’ perceptions of the social relevance of science in guiding their expectations to major in STEM remains largely unexplored. Though science education scholars predict that perceptions of
[...] Read more.
Despite efforts to increase participation in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM), the role of students’ perceptions of the social relevance of science in guiding their expectations to major in STEM remains largely unexplored. Though science education scholars predict that perceptions of social relevance likely matter equally for boys and girls, gender scholars suggest that these perceptions should matter more for girls than boys. Using longitudinal data from a large, urban, low-income, and predominantly minority-serving district, this study examines the potentially gendered role of perceptions of social relevance in ninth graders’ expectations to major in STEM. Further, it examines these dynamics with respect to expectations to major in any STEM field as well as expectations to major in specific STEM fields. Findings largely support the perspective of gender scholars; perceptions of the social relevance of science positively and significantly predict female, but not male, students’ intentions to major in STEM (vs. non-STEM fields). Subsequent analyses that look at intentions to major in specific STEM fields reveal a similar pattern, such that perceptions of relevance positively predict female students’ intentions to major in the biological sciences, the physical sciences, and engineering, while male students’ intentions are not similarly impacted. By contrast, positive perceptions of the relevance of science predict a modest increase in interest in computer science for both boys and girls. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Queer in STEM Organizations: Workplace Disadvantages for LGBT Employees in STEM Related Federal Agencies
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 12; doi:10.3390/socsci6010012
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 22 December 2016 / Accepted: 14 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in U.S. workplaces often face disadvantages in pay, promotion, and inclusion and emergent research suggests that these disadvantages may be particularly pernicious within science and engineering environments. However, no research has systematically examined whether LGBT employees
[...] Read more.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in U.S. workplaces often face disadvantages in pay, promotion, and inclusion and emergent research suggests that these disadvantages may be particularly pernicious within science and engineering environments. However, no research has systematically examined whether LGBT employees indeed encounter disadvantages in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) organizations. Using representative data of over 30,000 workers employed in six STEM-related federal agencies (the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Transportation), over 1000 of whom identify as LGBT, we compare the workplace experiences of LGBT employees in STEM-related federal agencies with those of their non-LGBT colleagues. Across numerous measures along two separate dimensions of workplace experiences—perceived treatment as employees and work satisfaction—LGBT employees in STEM agencies report systematically more negative workplace experiences than their non-LGBT colleagues. Exploring how these disadvantages vary by agency, supervisory status, age cohort, and gender, we find that LGBT persons have more positive experiences in regulatory agencies but that supervisory status does not improve LGBT persons’ experiences, nor do the youngest LGBT employees fare better than their older LGBT colleagues. LGBT-identifying men and women report similar workplace disadvantages. We discuss the implications of these findings for STEM organizations and STEM inequality more broadly. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Planning a Career in Engineering: Parental Effects on Sons and Daughters
Soc. Sci. 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/socsci6010002
Received: 20 July 2016 / Revised: 6 October 2016 / Accepted: 23 December 2016 / Published: 4 January 2017
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Abstract
This paper examines the extent to which prospective engineers follow in their parents’ footsteps. Specifically, we investigate the connection between fathers’ and mothers’ employment in the engineering profession and the career plans of sons and daughters. We develop a number of reasons to
[...] Read more.
This paper examines the extent to which prospective engineers follow in their parents’ footsteps. Specifically, we investigate the connection between fathers’ and mothers’ employment in the engineering profession and the career plans of sons and daughters. We develop a number of reasons to expect an occupation-specific intergenerational association in this field, as well as hypotheses regarding gender-specific role-modeling. Data are drawn from the UCLA HERI Freshman Survey data spanning 1971 to 2011. The results point to clear and substantial effects on sons and daughters’ plans to pursue engineering, connections that cannot be explained by typical pathways such as social background, education and values. The evidence points to a pattern of increasing salience of mothers with respect to the career plans of their children, especially their daughters. The implications of these findings for the under-representation of women in engineering and for gender-specific family dynamics are discussed in the conclusion. Full article
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