Male students underrate female students

From press release about an article in PLOS ONE

Female college students are more likely to abandon studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines than their male classmates, and new research from the University of Washington suggests that those male peers may play a key role in undermining their confidence.

Published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, the study* found that males enrolled in undergraduate biology classes consistently ranked their male classmates as more knowledgeable about course content, even over better-performing female students.

The over-ranking equated to males ranking their male peers smarter by three-quarters of a GPA point* than their equally-performing female classmates, showing what researchers say amounts to a clear and consistent gender bias. Female students, on the other hand, repeatedly showed no significant bias in whom they picked as knowledgeable.

One thought on “Male students underrate female students

  1. If male peers “play a key role in undermining” female students confidence by way of the mechanism proposed in this study, to a degree that makes them more likely to abandon studies in STEM fields, then at least at first glance one would expect to see the effect in the specific field studied. However, secondary education in biology fields is majority female across almost all sub-fields and up through the Ph.D. level:…/digest/d13/tables/dt13_318.30.asp . (The majority does decrease a bit at the doctorate transition.) So if this mechanism doesn’t explain gender participation in biology, it’s not clear why it would explain gender participation in other STEM fields.

    It could be that young women care about as much what random undergraduate men think about other undergraduate men in their classes as anyone else is likely to: not much!

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