Gender stereotypes in computer science and engineering start at age six: study

January 15, 2022 3:29 p.m. STI

Washington [US], Jan 15 (ANI): A recent study by a team of international researchers found that the perception that boys are more interested than girls in computer science and engineering starts as young as six years old.
The research was published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal”.
This may be one of the reasons why girls and women are underrepresented in these STEM career fields, reported study co-author Allison Master, an assistant professor at the University Of Houston College. Of Education.
“Gender interest stereotypes that say ‘STEM is for boys’ start in elementary school, and by the time they reach high school, many girls have made the decision not to pursue computer science. and in engineering because they feel they don’t belong,” Master said.
Researchers from UH and the University of Washington interviewed nearly 2,500 first- through 12th-graders from various racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The results of these studies have been combined with laboratory experiments to provide important insights into the impact of stereotypes on children’s motivation.
More children thought that girls had less interest than boys in key STEM fields. Specifically, 63% of students thought girls were less interested in engineering than boys, while 9% thought girls were more interested in the subject.

When it comes to computers, 51% thought girls were less interested while 14% thought girls were more interested than boys.
These patterns of interest manifested themselves in the labor market. According to statistics from the United States Census Bureau, while women make up nearly half of the workforce, they make up only 25% of computer scientists and 15% of engineers.
The researchers said educators, parents and policy makers can help close these gender gaps by introducing girls to high-quality computer science and engineering activities in primary school before grade-level endorsements. stereotypes don’t take root.
They also suggested that educators who want to promote girls’ interest and engagement in STEM should consider using inclusive programs designed to encourage girls’ sense of belonging in STEM.
Lab experiments gave children a choice of computing activities. Fewer girls (just 35 percent) chose an IT activity they thought boys were more interested in, compared to 65 percent of girls who chose an activity they thought boys and girls were equally interested in.
“It’s time for all stakeholders to come together to send the message that girls can benefit from STEM as much as boys, which will help attract them into STEM activities,” added Master, who leads the lab. Identity and Academic Motivation (I AM) from UH. .
The study’s co-authors are Andrew N. Meltzoff of the University of Washington, Seattle’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences; and Sapna Cheryan, University of Washington, Seattle Department of Psychology. (ANI)

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