Women May Be Underrepresented in STEM Because They’re Too Concerned With Grades: “Harvard economics professor Claudia Goldin wanted to know why only 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees in economics in the United States are awarded to women. So she started studying the academic records of students at one anonymous research institute and found that women who receive A’s in an introductory economics course were actually more likely than men with A’s to go on to choose economics as their major. But women who received poorer grades were much less likely to pursue the major than men were. Starting at the A-minus level, women jump ship to other majors, but men stick around. Men who receive B’s are just as likely as male A students to elect an econ major, but female A students are twice as likely as B students to major in econ. By the time you reach the C students, men are about four times as likely as women to major in the discipline.”
Read the rest here.
In a previous blog post, Leaving the Sciences (and maybe Philosophy too), on a New York Times piece, Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard) I wondered if that same phenomena was affecting philosophy enrollments. Both pieces cite the same piece of research by Ben Ost. Ost’s study, “The Role of Peers and Grades in Determining Major Persistence in the Sciences” is here. Ost’s abstract says, “In both the physical and life sciences, I find evidence that students are “pulled away” by their high grades in non-science courses and “pushed out” by their low grades in their major field. In the physical sciences, females are found to be more responsive to grades than males, consistent with psychological theories of stereotype vulnerability.”
I wrote in the old post, “I haven’t read through all of Ost’s paper yet but I did find myself wondering about Philosophy. Philosophers often boast about being tough graders and I think that we like that our grades are lower than other Humanities subjects. Does that grading culture cost us our female students? If so, what ought we to do about it?”
Anyone else familiar with this research? Anyone have views on whether it’s a factor in philosophy and our gender enrollment issues at the undergrad level?