The Science Technology Engineering and Math
For years society has created many different stereotypes for several different types of individuals. The Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields intimidate most women since society has capitalized it to be a male dominated field. This could be because men were the first to study the STEM fields and have succeeded greatly. Yet it is very rare for women to succeed in the math and science field due to the fact that they feel as if they didn’t have the potential to succeed simply because they are females.
What most people don’t know is that when someone is open to the element of a negative stereotype about which they belong, they perform worse on the task related to that negative stereotype. This effect creates a problem when women try to enter the STEM fields because of the belief that men are better at math than women and that men make better engineers and scientists. When someone is told that he or she is not good at a certain skill he or she begins to believe it and eventually start to perform inadequately.
Shelly Correll, a sociology professor, created a study where she told the subjects (women) that men scored higher in the first test (even though they all scored about the same) and the subject scored lower in the second test. Women often feel under pressure because of the need to fulfill the expectations of men. This pressure can often cause women to score lower in math and science because they are under the impression that men are better at math, thus they will not do as well and they tend to do poorly.
Different studies have been performed to prove that these stereotypes can distract them from performing just as well as an equally skilled man would. Another huge discouragement for females, when they first consider going into the STEM fields, is not seeing as many other women in those field and only seeing men can intimidate them greatly. Michael Inzlicht and Thalia Ben-Zeev discovered that the performance of a woman, when taking a math test in a room with two other men taking the test as well, their performance decreases compared to taking the test with two other women.
Stereotypes not only affect someone’s performance but it also decreases self-judgment, this in turn can also completely discourage females in to even thinking about going to into STEM fields. So, if stereotypes about women joining the math and science fields are only decreasing, how can one encourage women to disregard them? One must first create an environment in which no stereotype threat persists so that females aren’t concerned about being judged and maintaining their performance.
This can create confidence that women can do great in these fields and wont push them away from their career, because if someone does not feel certain about their work it can cause them to drop out from that career. Another great way to keep women in the STEM fields is by exposing them to more female role models. When other women see someone just like them succeeding in that same field it will give them the courage and confidence they need to continue in pursuing their career.
They wont feel as if they don’t belong in the field simply because society believes that men are superior to women at math and science. A role model will simply give them that extra push to continue. While most people may still believe that men are the only ones capable of succeeding in the STEM fields they must at least respect the fact that women are and can be just as good. That if they stopped diminishing them with negative stereotypes they might gain the confidence they were lacking to succeed.