According to the U.S. government's Student and Exchange Visitor Program, the total number of active female international students studying STEM in the U.S. increased more than 68 percent from 76,638 students in 2010 to 128,807 in 2015, with the largest increase at the master's degree level. The majority of those students were from India and China.
The study says that women are one and a half times more likely to drop out of calculus than men. The study, which was published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, a journal published by the Public Library of Science, found that while both men and women experience a loss of confidence in their math skills at a similar rate in Calculus I, the problem is that women have a lower confidence rate to begin with.
Women are fleeing the lab in larger numbers than men. Despite years of effort to encourage female students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and math - so called STEM fields - a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri finds that gender is a primary indicator in dropout rates for college programs.
Implicit biases -- such as girls aren't as good as boys in science and math -- have hampered advancements in work force diversity for decades. But what does it mean when girls themselves perpetuate the damaging erroneous stereotype? What can be done to entice girls to pursue classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) before they lose interest?
...it’s no secret that women who work in STEM fields face significant challenges and are severely under-represented, particularly in senior leadership roles. This lack of representation will have negative repercussions for the industry's long-term growth. Research shows that diversity leads to increased innovation and group performance, which are crucial to the success of STEM industries, whether they are creating life-saving medical devices or finding new ways to harness renewable energy.
During a panel discussion at the New America Foundation, Melissa Moritz, deputy director of STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- at the Education Department, noted the ethnic and gender imbalances in computer science education. Still a rarity at schools across the country, computer science classes are disproportionately unavailable to low-income students, according to Moritz, who argued that biases -- conscious or unconscious -- deter many minority and female students from pursuing the field that is accounting for more wage growth in the U.S.
Why do so few women sign up for careers in science, technology, engineering and math? Research suggests having few women in college in these fields and in technology companies creates a vicious cycle.
The Department of Education on Wednesday released a Dear Colleague letter warning high schools and colleges that women must have equal access to career and technical education programs in order to fill jobs that are currently in high demand.
"Girls and minorities are just as interested in science as white males. You look at all the data that are coming out, that look at high school students who might be going to college, they are as likely to be interested in those STEM fields as their white males. The question about whether or not they’re getting what they need is a valid one. In the case of minority students, it relates to the fact that they often aren’t in the best schools where the best classes are being offered, that offer authentic science practices for them."
Though female students have made huge strides overall in education -- they now outnumber men on college campuses, for instance -- Newman said a few trends are still worrisome, such as the low percentage of girls taking Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses each year. Given current course-taking trends, she predicted, “We’ll have people on Mars before I get 50% of the girls taking AP Computer Science.”