The New York Times:
A big reason America is falling behind other countries in science and math is that we have effectively written off a huge chunk of our population as uninterested in those fields or incapable of succeeding in them.
Women make up nearly half the work force but have just 26 percent of science, technology, engineering or math jobs, according to the Census Bureau. Blacks make up 11 percent of the workforce but just 6 percent of such jobs and Hispanics make up nearly 15 percent of the work force but hold 7 percent of those positions. There is no question that women and minorities have made progress in science and math in the last several decades, but their gains have been slow and halting. And in the fast-growing field of computer science, women’s representation has actually declined in the last 20 years, while minorities have made relatively small gains.
In many cases, women seem to have internalized society’s belief that they are incapable of mastering these fields as well as men. Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford, and other psychologists have found that female students who are made to believe that math ability is innate have lower scores and are less likely to study math than girls who believe that math skills can be acquired through hard work. Another study showed that female college students got more questions right on math tests when they were told beforehand that “college students are good at math” than when they were told “women are bad at math,” which suggests stereotypes undermine women’s performance.
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