Thursday, May 16, 2019

Women in STEM Fields

It’s hard to understand why the researchers did not know this beforehand, but they have just discovered, amazingly, that increasing women's awareness of gender bias in STEM subjects makes them believe that they do not belong in such fields.

Eric Dolan reports on the study, on PsyPost:

A new study suggests that interventions aimed at increasing knowledge of gender bias in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can also encourage the belief that women do not belong in such fields.

And also:

“Biases favoring men over women is one factor that may lead to the disparity of women in STEM. Because raising awareness of gender bias in STEM is a critical first step in addressing it, my co-authors and I have created new and easy-to-administer interventions to help make people aware that gender bias is an issue,” explained study author Evava S. Pietri, an assistant professor at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.

The diversity intervention — called Video Interventions for Diversity in STEM (VIDS) — uses short videos to explain the empirical evidence of gender bias. Previous research indicates that the videos increase knowledge about gender inequity and tend to decrease sexist attitudes.

Note the rhetorical slight of hand-- one factor that may lead to gender disparity. And, what if there are other factors, factors that have nothing to do with bigotry? The authors do not seem to care.

And also:

But the VIDS intervention also appeared to increase women’s concerns about fitting in. Women who watched VIDS were more likely to believe they would experience less belonging and trust at a STEM company.

“When creating any new intervention to address biases in STEM (or other contexts), it is important to carefully evaluate its effectiveness. Even if an intervention has the desired outcomes, it may also have unintended consequences that need to be addressed/fixed,” Pietri told PsyPost.

It is not too difficult to understand. As Shelby Steele pointed out in relation to affirmative action quotas once you single out a group for special treatment, even for a good reason, you make it appear that any member of the group does not belong.

If the videos are designed to make women feel like they belong, then it should not surprise us to see that they come away feeling that they do not belong. But then, we should ask, if we reduce all bias-- a functional impossibility-- will there be more or less women in these fields. And we have not even begun to ask the same question about race and ethnic bias. Is the goal to have proportional representation or to allow everyone a fair chance? These are not the same.

The problem is simple: the researchers note a disproportionate number of women in STEM subjects. They conclude that the cause must be sexist bigotry. By their reasoning, all disproportionate representation in STEM fields must be caused by bigotry. Does the same apply to football teams: are there so few women playing in the NFL because of sexist bigotry.

No one seems to care that relevant research suggests that women have less aptitude for these subjects and more aptitude for jobs that require more verbal facility and more caring.

The researchers are blissfully blind to reality. Their study is based on a faulty supposition and thus becomes nearly worthless… except as a symptom of their own brain warp.


trigger warning said...

Well, depends on what you mean by STEM.

For example, womyn dominate Environmental Engineering. Keeping the county tidy is an important thing.

And I discovered (after running across an article in Nature: Climate Change) that Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management is a female-dominated STEM field. Making sure the guests are comfortable comes naturally to some folks of the distaff persuasion. Put Lacey Blumars, PhD in charge of pit toilet maintenance and I guarantee a sufficient supply of bath tissue.

Sam L. said...

Ve Musssst be ALL ze zame!!! Womens' interests be damned.