May 16, 2021

only 4% of girls want to study them compared to 12% of boys

only 4% of girls want to study them compared to 12% of boys

Only 28% of the university students in careers in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, in its acronym in English) are women, a percentage slightly lower than that of the European countries of the OECD, which stands at 31, 4%. A study by the Universidad Camilo José Cela analyzes why this happens from data in the PISA report and concludes that this gap begins in secondary school: the proportion of girls who want to study science at 15 is three times lower than that of boys .

What do you see yourself working with at 30? This question is asked to students of that age who participate in the PISA report. A minority of the total, 16.3%, chooses the option that says that the greater one looks like a scientist, but it is even lower if it is seen by gender: 12.1% of them and 4.2% of them. In other areas it is very different: in the health service, for example -Medicine or Nursing-, there is overrepresentation of women. The study disaggregates the data by Autonomous Communities, but this problem is "transversal", explains Francisco López Rupérez, responsible for the research.

A Technological Baccalaureate class from an Institute of any Spanish city with just a couple of girls. It is a recurrent image that supports the results of the report: "In Primary there are no big differences, it is in high school when we begin to see the distancing of the sciences, that is why it is important to operate at that stage, we have the obligation to get there. " That is the moment in which the majority of professional vocations are born and the path that will be followed is marked. After the ESO, there are the Bachillerato itineraries, then the career or Vocational Training, "and it is very difficult to make the way back from no-STEM to STEM", explains López Rupérez.

They find many causes for this gap, discarding differences in terms of "cognitive abilities" between girls and boys in view of the results of international research. The study divides the factors into four: individual (biological and psychological); relatives; school and social. All are crossed by gender bias, stereotypes and social expectations for girls and boys.

From the UCJC analyze that this gender gap in secondary school then affects the salary gap: the data they handle is that, at the end of this decade, the pace of creation of STEM jobs will double that of non-STEM jobs (18% against 9%). The jobs that have to do with scientific careers are highly qualified, that is, "in choosing those careers, men have better paid options, if we were to get women to these STEM professions, part of the salary gap that has to do with the differences in the type of employment would be reduced ".

The causes: deficit of self-confidence

There is an aspect that went through the genre that they found especially relevant: self-confidence. "Self-confidence has a greater influence on women's performance than men's, that is to say, equal marks in mathematics, female students have a significant probability
lower than that of students recognizing that they are "good at math." Therefore, one of the recommendations to close the gap has to do with changing the way science is taught in ESO: "If there is a deficit in Trust, you need to feel the domain. We must develop knowledge in the classroom that leads to deep learning. "Also, and above all, that professional guidance in these ages takes into account specificities like that and attention is paid.

Other factors that have been studied are that the performance and interest is the influence of the environment: among girls, "peer support has a greater effect than for boys"; that is, there is feedback between the peer group. Finally, the parental influence, especially of mothers more than of fathers for "gender roles and involvement". "Girls who succeed in the sciences tend to have mothers with high educational expectations and who care about their daughters' school progress."

Among all the proposed solutions is also to promote scientific learning "of a cooperative nature" for interaction between equals, as well as parental involvement through schools and the teachers themselves with "educational policies" that value all this idiosyncrasy.

The complete study also analyzes the performance and expectations of students in scientific subjects, with results by Communities. In general, they specify from the UCJC setting at that total 16.3%, in Spain there is a deficit of scientific vocations. That is why "it is important to motivate girls for them, but this has a collective dimension." With efforts to get girls more oriented to scientific professions, we would achieve the necessary increase in the number of STEM graduates in our country. directly related to the development in our country of the "fourth industrial revolution, which relies on physical, biological, and digital systems, and their interactions with each other".


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