STEM 3.7 Deconstructing the Gender Disparity

Let’s look specifically at the participation of women in STEM.

Since 2000, women have earned approximately half of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees[1]. However, further examination reveals that a significant gender gap in degrees earned in many STEM disciplines such as engineering and computer science.

The disparity is not because girls aren’t good at STEM. On average, girls receive higher grades in school in every subject including mathematics and science, earn more credits in math and science courses than males; and have a higher combined GPA in math and science courses than boys [2].

Despite these achievements, girls are not readily choosing many STEM college majors and career paths; instead they are likely to pursue degrees in the humanities, and life and social sciences [3].

  1. National Science Foundation, 2009, NSF Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering Report, Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.

  2. Dwyer, C., and L. Johnson, 1997, Grades, accomplishments, and correlates, pp. 127-156 in Gender and Fair Assessment, (W.W. Willingham and N.S. Cole, eds.) Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Kimball, M.M., 1989, A new perspective on women’s math achievement, Psychological Bulletin, 105, 198-214.

    U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2007, The Nation’s Report Card: America’s High School Graduates (NCES 2007-467). Available from:

  3. Lubinski, D., and C.P. Benbow, 2006. Study of mathematically precocious youth after 35 years: Uncovering antecedents for the development of math-science expertise, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(4), 316.