The Gender-Equality Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education

That is a new paper by Gjisbert Stoet and David C. Geary, here is the abstract, noting that the last sentence is perhaps the most important:

The underrepresentation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a continual concern for social scientists and policymakers. Using an international database on adolescent achievement in science, mathematics, and reading (N = 472,242), we showed that girls performed similarly to or better than boys in science in two of every three countries, and in nearly all countries, more girls appeared capable of college-level STEM study than had enrolled. Paradoxically, the sex differences in the magnitude of relative academic strengths and pursuit of STEM degrees rose with increases in national gender equality. The gap between boys’ science achievement and girls’ reading achievement relative to their mean academic performance was near universal. These sex differences in academic strengths and attitudes toward science correlated with the STEM graduation gap. A mediation analysis suggested that life-quality pressures in less gender-equal countries promote girls’ and women’s engagement with STEM subjects.

So what is the implied prediction for our future?

For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.

Comments

This research seems to be further evidence in favor of the hypothesis that men and women, when given more freedom and opportunity, express different career preferences.

This is supported by the paper. Nevertheless, the conclusion (which is labeled "Interventions"), begins thus:

"Our results indicate that achieving the goal of parity in STEM fields will take more than improving girls’ science education and raising overall gender equality. ..."

As if "the goal of parity" is some unquestionable given rather than a dubious political agenda.

In typical MR fashion, may I suggest that there is also a Straussian reading of that sentence? ;)

There is, but it's completely ambiguous.

Excellent. Made me smile.

It sounds like it will take "life-quality pressures."

Prediction: A Soviet style career placement mechanism to direct the correct number of women into STEM careers and the correct number of men into "traditionally" female careers. And once that little problem is fixed, we can get on with the real work of solving the transgender gap in STEM.

Naaah, that won't happen. This is the usual litany of complaints from Grievance Studies majors. Whatever else you can say about them, they love their Grievance Studies and think more people should study them. Even more Engineers. So they will want more girls to learn to be a Lesbian in the Humanities than studying anything in STEM. If they really thought STEM was good, they would have become doctors or something.

What they will do is use these numbers as a stick with which to beat men in general and the STEM Schools in particular until they hand over large amounts of money and generally genuflect in their general direction. Why learn something boring and hard like coding when you can yell at Google until they give lots of money and kiss your rear? Profitable and revenge against all those boys that didn't ask you to the prom.

There is a reason that East Germany needed a Berlin Wall. These anti-human campaigns from the left necessitate an invasive and forceful government and are the road to serfdom. Ask a progressive if they care. They don't. They only care about:

http://thefederalist.com/2018/02/15/religion-democratic-party-abortion-brunch/

"his research seems to be further evidence in favor of the hypothesis that men and women, when given more freedom and opportunity, express different career preferences."

In Saudi Arabia almost all the drivers are men, you almost never see a woman driving a car. Clearly this must be because women in Saudi Arabia choose not to drive and men do. This expression of free will is, as well, almost certainly driven by genetics. If you sequenced DNA from a wide array of people, you would no doubt find some genes are more expressed in Saudis than other populations. Hence this establishes that Saudi women genetically don't want to drive cars.

Can I now get my research grant from the Alt-right Institute of Research?

It's cartoonish and facile responses like these that make your ilk so insufferable and reasonable debate impossible.

Why do you hate that women have a freedom to choose their careers?

Why do you hate that woman make different lifestyle choices and this is partially biological? You haven't done a single thing to refute any of the incontestable facts that I've presented.

This is a funny post. Brown is like Saudi Arabia!

I sequenced the genomes of the oppressors. The tests came back 'male' in every country I checked. Why?

Sorry, Saudi Arabia announced they were abolishing the ban on women drivers back in September. That's plenty of time for women to have started driving. Clearly an absence of women drivers right now cannot be attributed to 'oppressors' and must be deep seated biological traits that have influenced culture.

I suggest we form a commission, perhaps Jordan Peterson could run it with Charles Murray, to investigate ancient Saudi folklore and connect it to these genetic traits of Saudis to prove how woman Saudi drivers are socially impossible for deep biological and historical reasons.

Do drivers in countries with more freedom show more dramatic male/female splits than the Saudis? Would be nice if you pretended to think before spewing preconceptions over the comment section.

As I pointed out, there are genes more common to Saudi populations than others so the fact that you see many women driving in, say, France, simply demonstrates my point that women aren't driving in Saudi Arabia due to genetic inclinations that expresses itself in choices not to take up driving.

"Sorry, Saudi Arabia announced they were abolishing the ban on women drivers back in September. That’s plenty of time for women to have started driving."

Ah, so Boonton actually has an argument; change takes time!

"Paradoxically, the sex differences in the magnitude of relative academic strengths and pursuit of STEM degrees rose with increases in national gender equality."

D'oh! Boonton must lack reading comprehension as his argument is destroyed in sentence #3.

Ah, so Boonton actually has an argument; change takes time!

Stepping outside of character, a foolish way to look at this would be to say "now women and men are treated equally therefore the %'s we see in things like STEM are the result of fixed biological traits". Presumably that means today we have a 'blank slate' free of all biases and prejudices hence anything we see today is pure freedom of choice exercised without constraint.

But throw a system out of equilibrium and it takes quite a while to settle back to a new normal. For example, consider the entry of males into nursing. More males in nursing means more male breadwinners....or at least fewer cases where women have to be a breadwinner which may end up with less pressure for some women to take up STEM fields (assuming they are both higher paying and higher stress).

The problem with biological arguments are that the evidence for the biological differences are very weak, not at all obvious, and would actually require a huge amount of evidence before they could be accepted. Contrast that with the a question like 'why are there no female NFL players?', which almost no one even bothers to ask and no one really disputes biology as a key factor in explaining and no one is making serious demands to 'even out'.

"More males in nursing means more male breadwinners….or at least fewer cases where women have to be a breadwinner which may end up with less pressure for some women to take up STEM fields (assuming they are both higher paying and higher stress)."

Yes, this is exactly it. If women don't have to be a breadwinner, as they do in places like India, they choose not to be. This explains why richer, freer, more equal societies have larger gender imbalances in STEM and implies larger gender imbalances in all traditionally "gendered" professions.

"But throw a system out of equilibrium and it takes quite a while to settle back to a new normal"

Yes, but if we tilt a lever holding a box a bit more in one direction, why would we expect to see movement against gravity before the new equilibrium of a takes hold?

Yes, this is exactly it. If women don’t have to be a breadwinner, as they do in places like India, they choose not to be. This explains why richer, freer, more equal societies have larger gender imbalances in STEM and implies larger gender imbalances in all traditionally “gendered” professions.

Or this is a dynamic in flux after a few decades of beginning to make an effort at rejecting gender bias in occupations and the long run equilibrium might be quite different.

And how long we will have to wait for this new equilibrium? Another century in the Nordic countries? The social constructionists are unlikely to ever be satisfied that any significant difference is not the result of malignant vestigial cultural forces.

How long will you give Saudi Arabia before you declare they aren't oppressing women but instead just have women with different genes than the rest of the world?

More seriously, what I'm getting at here is it's a little silly to say we've achieved some type of neutral cultural plane where all differences at this point must belong to biology or deep cultural elements that cannot be changed just like saying a month after Saudi women are legally 'liberated' to drive and 99% of drivers are still men mean that is just the natural choice of Saudi women.

Grow up, Boonton. Make a reasonable argument or get out.

You first.

One of the really useful indicators of worthy opponents is the extent to which they steelman their opponent's positions.

So Fail.

Facts: Women drive less than men in Saudi Arabia. Saudi's have genetic differences from other human populations.

Standard Hypothesis: Women drive less than men because they are oppressed.
Alternative: Saudi genes result in less desire by women to drive than men

If we say the formal driving ban was just lifted, how much time should go by before you would start to doubt the standard hypothesis and start looking around for alternatives? Suppose 20 years from now only 25% of Saudi women drive yet 50% of women who visit Saudi Arabia from other nations drive. At that point would you say there's strong evidence for the alternative?

"At that point would you say there’s strong evidence for the alternative?"

Sure. In 20 years, you might have a point.

So you are committed to embracing a genetic explanation of driving difference should Saudi females not achieve driving parity in 20 years or less?

Women drive much less then men in the United States. So when will you start considering the possibility that there are innate differences between men and women, and women are less interested in driving than men.

"So you are committed to embracing a genetic explanation of driving difference should Saudi females not achieve driving parity in 20 years or less?"

The typical phrasing for that type of question is: "Answer the question Yes of No, Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

The typical phrasing for that type of question is: “Answer the question Yes of No...

Well let's keep going with this. Is Saudi Arabia all that different just because they announced they are going to let women drive cars? If 20 years from now women drive cars there at a dramatically lower rate are you really going to just give up and jump on the 'Saudi female driving gene' being the cause? I suspect you would probably say an untra-conservative society would probably still put huge pressures on women not to drive. On top of that if regulations like women needing chaperones from their family when in public remain in place many women will find few real reasons to drive (since they can't actually stop and get out anywhere other than their homes unless they have a male family member with them).

On the other hand, as you point out it may well be that women don't want to drive as much as men do. Perhaps even after generations of equality Saudi women will never hit male levels of driving...or even levels of driving equal to women in other developed nations. In all likelihood the standard hypothesis probably accounts for a large portion of the difference but the alternative might be a small factor.

Yet before we excuse Saudi Arabia I think you'd demand quite a bit of pretty solid evidence the standard hypothesis has been ruled out. Announcing 'legal equality' last week doesn't cut it.

Now bringing this back Google is 85% male. Logging in Canada is also about 85% male. I'm fine with assuming the alternative hypothesis accounts for a large portion of the difference in genders when it comes to logging but I find it surprising the same applies to Google, which last time I checked has few physical demands on its workers that would favor males in the manner that logging does.

Fine, there are unjust cultural forces against women driving. in Saudis Arabia. What is the unjust forces that caused the homebrew computer club to be mostly male?

1. Cultural forces may be just or unjust, but to the degree they are cultural that means they are more malleable than biological forces. 85% of Google being male is less a consequence of biology than 85% of (Canadian) loggers being male or 100% of NFL players being male.

2. Homebrew computer club? OK let's grow up, tech companies are giant global monster companies many of which are near monopolies in their niches. Pretending we are talking about kids in their parents basements playing D&D and writing some code on the side is like big agriculture pretending they are a bunch of family farmers.

3. First mover effects are important. Because of the 'accident' of how and where many tech companies were founded as infant garage industries, that may drive culture and hiring going forward, sort of like subatomic noise right after the Big Bang gets blown up to become clusters of galaxies today...it doesn't mean that's the optimal way to run things. It isn't obvious that running a company at 85% male produces the best outcomes even if you aren't considering any justice issues about opportunities for women.

Did the number of Saudi female drivers increase or decrease since they allowed them to drive? The research suggests that the number of women in STEM decreases when they have more opportunities, thus it looks like evidence that the gender gap is not a result of discrimination. Are you suggesting that female driving will stay at 0 (or even decline?) for the next X years in Saudi arabia, thus showing that their non-participation as a driver is/was not a result of discrimination?

When I was in grade school there were many smart girls certainly better than me at spelling and math. The boys were mostly interested in bicycles and fishing and playing ball, etc. When I was in junior high my interests were cars, carpentry, reading, science, hunting and even math. The girls were interested in babies and dancing and clothing, lipstick, their hair, etc. In High school that division got wider. The boys were still interested in cars, tools, machines, math, and of course girls. But the girls were still mostly interested in their clothes, hair, makeup, marriage and babies. I never saw any effort by teachers or parents to direct girls towards those things and not math or to direct boys to cars and mechanical things and not marriage. It is what it is. Too this day some 60 years later I still have no interest in my hair or makeup but that remains my wife's fascination. I still like to work on cars and mechanical things and my wife and other women I know have less than zero interest in these things.

If social scientists and policy makers are concerned about female underrepresentation in STEM, it follows that they should be equally concerned with female over representation in teaching and nursing. Because both are a product of choices made by females - and males - rather than any serious obstacles.

So it follows that policy makers have a problem with choices. And it will never end, because male/female preferences permeate society from the types of books, shows and movies we watch, to the sports we like, how we vote, and who we relate to.

The war for equality of outcomes is a war against statistics and biology.

Actually a feminist perspective would agree and ask are men under represented in nursing because of biases that inhibit males from going into nursing. On the other hand, though, the number of males in nursing has been dramatically increasing so there you go.

You'll note more than a few comments about the decline in male labor force participation have centered on the question of whether part of the solution is convincing people to try occupations like nursing that have traditionally been viewed as 'for girls'.

Suppose the discouraged men chose to go into these lucrative female dominated fields. Assuming they all could be successful, this would lower wages in the field AND at the same time boost male wages from zero to average. This would exacerbate perceived gender inequity even though the planned response would be unambiguously welfare enhancing.

If male participation in nursing is increasing, why isn't female participation in fishing, logging, oil rigging, and other high paying dangerous and dirty jobs increasing also?

The correct answer is "dangerous and dirty" and hence we see that women's preferences are a large part of the problem, not opportunity. Now I do admit that perhaps all these fields could have severe barriers to entry for women, discriminatory pay, and severe on the job harassment. But I've never seen such specific evidence proffered and I reject conclusory allegations of such discrimination. Women who claim pay disparity bear the burden of proving these barriers, not merely asserting them.

Logging jobs have been declining, currently stands at 55,300 but projected to decline by 13% between 2016-2026 (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/logging-workers.htm#tab-1)

http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-male-dominated-industries-and-occupations indicates women have about 18% of logging jobs in Canada but only 3% in the US. I suspect if women are going anywhere in logging it's going to be up since it seems you could have a logging industry with 18% female loggers and at only 3% in the US the share doesn't have much room to go any lower over the next 10 years.

But a greater share of a declining industry could mean almost no additional jobs or even fewer jobs. In contrast, Registered Nurses are 2.9M in the US and projected to grow 15%.

So if women achieve 20% of logging jobs in 2026, that will be 9401 jobs worked by woman and an increase of 7742. On the other hand, if men achieve just 1% more RN jobs by 2026, that would be 33,350 men employed.

"Now I do admit that perhaps all these fields could have severe barriers to entry for women, discriminatory pay, and severe on the job harassment. But I’ve never seen such specific evidence proffered and I reject conclusory allegations of such discrimination. Women who claim pay disparity bear the burden of proving these barriers, not merely asserting them."

Do conservatives also bear this burden of proving bias if the topic is academia or mainstream media? Just asking?

“Achieving ... logging ... jobs.” Ummmm... yeah.

Like physicians, men who become nurses appear to be different than women in their preferences (men cluster in faster-paced like ICU, high tech, higher ed required, night/evening shifts, etc.). Moreover, the number of men becoming, say, veterinarians has been in a steep decline (male vets still dominant livestock, which pays more and requires more travel) and exhibits the usual pattern of men abandoning jobs that are or become dominated by women. So feminists will never be satisfied until they get to force men and women into their preferred outcome, which means completely subjecting the private (where "bias" will always exist) to the public.

Apparently, many readers are unaware that the "Science Community" and especially the Academic Science Community - and NOT, repeat not just the "Social Science (or the SJWs) - is on the warpath (or is that word unacceptable cultural (mis)appropriation?) to "fix" their STEM degree mills. This, from what I am seeing, is a MAJOR effort at changing the results of the current system/environment. as an aside: They have discovered, among other things, that women are less likely to want to dedicate the 10 years or so after completion of their bachelors degree to focusing exclusively on their career. Who would have thought that females aged 24-34 might have some (biological) imperatives which many prioritize over their quite poor chance at gaining tenure somewhere? My experience is that generally, these studies assume jobs are waiting for every extra PhD they can churn out while the job data says otherwise. There are a few "hot" degrees, but for the most part the STEM PhDs granted per year outpaced the expected job openings (I think tenure track, but may have included industrial PhD positions, as well, I just don't recall) by factors of 2x to 30x. So increasing the number of women makes sense only if it's a zero sum game.

Are 'degree mills' which expects people to focus solely on career from ages 24-34 the best way to for society to produce STEM? Maybe this was the optimal way when the job was almost exclusive to men who either would not have children or who would source the children to a full time 'homemaker'.

This seems to relate to the earlier post on the alleged decline of men due to lack of "social skills". Suppose women actually had an absolute advantage over men in STEM, as this study suggests. If their absolute advantage in non-STEM activities was even greater, say women had an even larger absolute advantage in "social skills", then women would have a comparative advantage in non-STEM and a *comparative disadvantage* in STEM. (It is impossible to have a comparative advantage in everything unless one lives in Lake Wobegon.) So, in countries with high gender equality, we would expect women to be "underrepresented" in STEM. Actually, it would be better to say that men were underrepresented in non-STEM, which would require that men be "overrepresented" in STEM because no one can be underrepresented in everything.

In less gender-equal countries, women may not have a comparative advantage in cognitive jobs requiring "social skills". Hiring and promotion for those jobs tend to involve much more subjectivity, and hence allow for more gender discrimination, and also gender attitudes in those countries may prevent women from developing the required professional relationships despite their presumed innate social skills. I guess that is related to "life-quality pressures". In these cases, women may have a comparative advantage in STEM, or at least less of a comparative disadvantage than in gender equal countries.

Implied prediction for the future: if women are given equal opportunities as men, we might expect to see women's overrepresentation in non-STEM areas continue to cause their underrepresentation in STEM. To do better in STEM would require that they do worse in "social skills".

It's a bizarre belief that social skills are not needed in STEM careers. Look at an iPhone or an Airbus -- what you're seeing is the end result of decades of successful teamwork -- predominantly male teamwork. And such teams may be harmonious or fractious and may succeed or fail, and this often depends on the social skills of team leaders -- their ability to resolve differences, set goals, and inspire effort. Nothing like an iPhone or Airbus could have been built by a bunch of antisocial, isolated loners.

Megan McArdle had a post a while back about why she left tech which included this key bit:

No, the reason I left is that I came into work one Monday morning and joined the guys at our work table, and one of them said “What did you do this weekend?” I was in the throes of a brief, doomed romance. I had attended a concert that Saturday night. I answered the question with an account of both. The guys stared blankly. Then silence. Then one of them said: “I built a fiber-channel network in my basement,” and our co-workers fell all over themselves asking him to describe every step in loving detail.

One conclusion....Nnnneeeeerrrrrrddddssss!!! with no social skills. But that is wrong. Those guys weren't loners, they were bonding over a shared hobby they found interesting. And McArdle lacked the social skills to participate in this small society which operated according to different principles than she found comfortable or interesting.

And, BTW, she wanted to discuss her 'doomed romance' with a group of co-workers around the water cooler? What!? Were these guys all close friends? If not, how socially inept! Women seem to have a hard time distinguishing between small groups of intimate friends (where such sharing is appropriate) and work colleagues (where it isn't). You can work effectively with people you don't particularly like and whom you never get to know intimately. That's more than OK -- teams function better when you don't mix the two up.

Slocum
I am an engineer and love my work, but I am with BC on this one. Sure with their current set of skills and developed interests, men love to be nerds. And if you suddenly placed them in a position where they had a super social life with many friends and were focused on looking handsome and flirting all the time with attractive women they would be highly uncomfortable as they are well aware of their lack of social skills in that regard. But if you could somehow give them these skills at the same time and the associated confidence, I think things would be different. Likewise, if you took an average man, they would struggle to be a house husband looking after kids, and socializing all day. But give them the social permission to do that and I think things would be different. What person, absent that social pressure, would really want to spend 8 to 10 hours a day in a cube rather than at home with their kids?

"What person, absent that social pressure, would really want to spend 8 to 10 hours a day in a cube rather than at home with their kids?"

Revealed preferences indicate that a greater percentage of men than women would rather be at work than home with their kids. And that's the real crux of the matter. This matters at two levels and the first is mostly overlooked.

Assume a couple is married and it's economically advantageous for one to stay home with the kids. If the man has a 60% preference for work and a 40% preference for staying at home with the kids, and the the woman has a 50% preference either way, then the women will nearly always be the one to stay home. It's not a random walk. A couple will (somewhat loosely) act to maximize their combined preferences.

If there's a small difference in preferences, it will result in vastly different outcomes when presented with a binary choice.

In the past, I have both worked in a cube and spent significant time at home with small children (while also working out of a home office). After enough time home alone with kids, going to the office can seem almost like a mini vacation (a feeling my wife shared, BTW).

And, working in a cube situation doesn't mean social isolation - far from it. In fact, I found time for quiet concentration was often hard to come by, with people poking their heads in constantly to ask questions or chat as well as the threat of having your day clotted with one meeting after another.

I agree and disagree.

I agree that the social skills thing is bizarre. I'm not fully immersed in the academic research on this, but my recollection is that on things like introversion and extroversion men and women are pretty similar on average, but there are more very extroverted women than men. I would guess the same could be said for emotional intelligence or other measures of social skills. The two distributions largely overlap, but maybe women are more at the extremes. (leaving aside that if you say this about intelligence, then you're a sexist).

Nevertheless, I would probably hang my hat on the fact that women and men behave differently within their own social groups. There is a long history of male-only social organizations - old boys' clubs also come to mind. Further, I far more often hear criticisms of these organizations/institutions from women than the reverse. For instance, I cannot ever recall hearing a feminist say, what sounds to me to be perfectly reasonable, "we should curb the excesses of fraternities, but we should not ban them as an institution because they promote social cooperation within men".

I disagree with your interpretation of McArdle and social skills in the group, though at the same time I agree with McArdle. McArdle's point isn't about social skills. It's about how much more interested her male colleagues were in topics related to their work than she was. She had numerous demands on her time, (ex)boyfriend, concerts, fun, etc. that she valued more than the same extracurricular activities of her co-workers. I agree that the guys were bonding over a shared hobby that they all found interesting. The difference is that there are more socially graceful ways to handle a woman talking about her 'doomed romance' at the water cooler. For instance, you could express sympathy and ask how she's doing, at a minimum. The guys clearly felt awkward and were more than happy to change the subject to a conversion that they enjoyed more. That's certainly not evil or anything, but it's definitely not good social skills.

Maybe Megan shouldn't have overshared with a group that she was not close with. That's on her. But social skills are also about how you react to what other people do.

"teams function better when you don’t mix the two up." - this is an empirical question.

"The guys clearly felt awkward..." Based on what? McArdle's claim that they didn't respond? I find your post puzzling because its content requires some really bizarre thinking. First, it wasn't at the water cooler; it was at their work table. Second, (and this one is really odd) the fact that they discussed one guy's fiber network project indicated *NOTHING* about their own hobbies or interests, just that their desire to wade in to emotionally non-neutral issues like her (one-night?) relationships or speak about some movie they had no interest in (chic flick?) was small or negligible. Not knowing what McArdle actually said (including tone and body language), there is simply no way to judge after the fact whether their silence and change of subject was appropriate. I once said good morning to a chemist I worked with in the lab. She came in about 45 minutes late and looked like she'd just tossed on some clothes. I (foolishly) said:"Morning Joy! (her name) Sleep late this morning?" and her response was: "No, I had sex with my boyfriend." This was met with silence. What a surprise.

Its against the reigning orthodoxy but segregation of sexes in high school and college also has similar consequences. Iran has far more female engineers and scientists than male ones for instance. Mixing genders in formative years tend to encourage self-actualization of the genders. And that means less male nurses and more male delinquents on one side and on the other, more women shunning the hard sciences.

This is counter-intuitive (shouldn't boys become more like boys if left to themeselves and vice versa?) but makes sense when you keep in mind that social dynamics are always relative. So STEM is not a 'male' field in a group consisting exclusively of women just like nursing isn't a 'female' profession if your entire class of nursing students consist of men. There is also the added benefit of instantly doing away with all teenage/hormone induced drama. That florida kid who was expelled because he assaulted the boyfriend of his ex for and later brought a gun to school to take revenge etc. Wouldn't happen in Iran!

'70% Of Iran's Science And Engineering Students Are Women'
https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyguttman/2015/12/09/set-to-take-over-tech-70-of-irans-science-and-engineering-students-are-women/

An interesting experiment would be to try to disentangle the effect of income and culture. Liberal and egalitarian cultures are also associated with rich nations.

When you're low income, you want to be able to get to higher income and stem rules there, except for very high risk creative careers. So, girls and guys try hard to get into STEM.

Does segregation work in an otherwise liberal culture? It will be a very interesting experiment.

STEM is hard work. Men have fewer avenues to avoid it.

In a lot of Third World countries, such as in the Middle East, boys tend to be lazier, so they skip hard fields and let girls go into the more strenuous fields.

In Norway, boys aren't that lazy.

Rofl. Kind of expected from someone who once sepculated that there are a lot of coders in Bangalore because of its high altitude and cold weather.

?

"in the Middle East, boys tend to be lazier,"

So it couldn't be that Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European cultures teach their girls to improve their standard of living by going into STEM and working their asses off, while White American culture holds hilariously gendered views of various jobs and while paying lip-service to female empowerment, teaches its daughters that empowerment means moving to NYC at 24 to "do something in media" while consuming copious amounts of "chai tea latte" and birth control? No, must be them lazy strange furregners' boys.

Stem is hard. And it doesn’t pay proportionally to how demanding it is or how much society benefits from it. Just ask an adjunct teaching physics or a 50 yr old programmer.

You’re better off working in marketing, medicine, or high end party planning.

It may not pay proportional to someone's subjective view of difficulty, but that doesn't change the fact the jobs are relatively high paying and thus enhance average wages based on gender participation.

The labor theory of value has also been thoroughly discredited although we do see compensating differentials in some fields. Being in STEM, or law, or accounting might be mentally and emotionally gruelling, but the digs are clean and safe.

"You’re better off working in marketing, medicine, or high end party planning."

Medicine is considered a STEM field.

Is it? I never see nursing offered as evidence of female engagement in STEM.

My elitist two cents as a computer scientist is that most medical practitioners are not much more a few hundred memorized flow charts wearing a lab coat. I look forward to being diagnosed by a neural network.

More evidence to my opinion that STEM is a purely a made-up category without much internal coherence,

"most medical practitioners are not much more a few hundred memorized flow charts wearing a lab coat"

Largely irrelevant to the point I think, unless people use "STEM" as code to "field that that requires very hard intelligence".

"Is it? I never see nursing offered as evidence of female engagement in STEM."

https://stemjobs.com/popular-stem-majors/

"Nursing
The most popular on our list of STEM majors, nursing is perfect for compassionate people who enjoy diagnosing patients and working with some of the latest in health technologies."

However, not all Nurses get Bachelors of Science degrees. Would a two year degree count?

Back 20 or 30 years ago, some claimed the M in STEM was for medicine, not mathematics. Arguably, mathematics is a science so I'd almost prefer that - except for the fact that medicine fits fairly comfortably into Engineering...STE? or how about just Tech?

Mathematics is not "Tech"; Physics (of the hard, pure, type) is not also "Tech"; and I think medicine does not fit in engineering (I think that engineering as a connotation of designing things).

Medicine is very similar, I think, to biology (is basically applied biology; biology is a science, than, makes sense to consider medicine as "STEM" by analogy - and, in some ways, is more "hard" (in the sense of objective withour much room to digressions, not in the sense of difficult) than Math or some variants of Physics.

I can only see the abstract, so my first question would be what the measure used for gender equality is.

Engineering is too much like manual labor. Math is something for shop-keepers and itinerant sellers of trinkets. In other words, not cool.
So the Samurai class thought in the period subsequent to 1868. It took re-education (a revolution in social values) and economic need to persuade them to the contrary. Then it became cool and got you a steady job, girls, travel opportunities, status, respect, all those things men like (nothing anti-gay intended, just the way it usually is). Similar things going on in at least some Arab/Muslim lands.
A little ethnography would go far here. Maybe a sample survey. How about asking the girls what they want, what they believe will lead to what they want, and what they are doing to make those things happen.
For that matter, why don't all guys become STEM majors if it's such a great thing? Maybe the question is why do some guys become STEM majors whereas everyone else is just doing the normal, intelligent, optimistic thing, hoping their puppetry and queer studies advanced degrees will come in handy somehow.
My guess is that STEM is hard. And boring.
Bonus trivium: Proteins are rich in nitrogen. Yet nitrogen can be highly toxic. Amazing. More research needed.

"My guess is that STEM is hard. And boring." If you're made the right way it's not too hard, and it's fascinating. Or, at least, the bit you select will be fascinating. To you. Which is the point, isn't it?

I know a girl - oh all right, a middle-aged woman - who has had a successful STEM career (physical branch, not biological or chemical), and is well thought of by her mainly male colleagues. Then she had a problem with her car. How did she solve it? She asked me! Because although I find cars dull and am bored silly by car-nuts, hell I'm male and so automatically could explain that the problem couldn't be with her cylinder head gasket because ......

Water consists of oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen is extremely flammable/ explosive/exothermic in oxygen. Yet, when combined, they form water, which is used to put out fire. Do we need more research to prove that water does not exacerbate an existing flame? No. We don't. Same concept concerning nitrogen. On its own, it may be dangerous. But when combined with other atoms or molecules, it may render nitrogen relatively harmless such as in the case of proteins. Then again, it isn't as if all nitrogen based compounds in our body is harmless. Ammonia, NH3 produced by our body during deamination is poisonous. It is converted to urea, a less harmful product by combining with carbon dioxide and excreted in urine or sweat.

"...water does not exacerbate an existing flame." WRONG. ... reminds me of my 4th of July outing at the beach. I had an inflatable 2-man rubber dingy and paddled it out a couple dozen meters and threw into the water a pop can sized piece of sodium metal (we were cleaning up at work, and this was going to be disposed of anyway). I tossed it about 2-3 m from the dingy. It sank (it's slightly lighter (less dense) than water) and in about 15 seconds came bubbling back up to surface at which point the H2 gas began to burn and the chunk burst into a dozen or so smaller chunks which then also burst apart, etc. All these little explosions bringing flaming bits of metal back closer and closer to me and my dingy. I started paddling madly to get away. My kids (and wife) were quite entertained. Anyway, making absolute statements about a chemical's universal reactivity, eg water, is not something someone with a basic familiarity with chemistry should do. Water has some "absolute" properties (occupies volume, has a minimum potential energy, but flammability is not environment insensitive. Some claim (but I doubt it) that you can light your skin fairly easily in a 100% oxygen environment. One experiment I'm not going to try. Anyway. You prolly should avoid making absolute statements in areas you're not sufficiently familiar with...Dunning-Kruger Effect?

"Using an international database on adolescent achievement in science, mathematics, and reading (N = 472,242), we showed that girls performed similarly to or better than boys in science in two of every three countries"

You neglected to control for the fact that females automatically get a massive boost in grades simply for being female.

Simple tests for the ability to predict the result of simple programs give pretty much the same result before and after students have completed a lengthy course on programming, rendering it questionable that academic teaching of stem subjects serves any useful purpose and the overwhelming majority of the people scoring high on such tests are male.

I'm not sure if I would have phrased it this way, but from what I remember of early education it is probably true.

I think it might be more apt to say that teachers have considerable discretion in assigning marks, so social skills and cooperation have a way of infiltrating marks in every subject.

Last year, I was researching IQ (TC is such a knee-jerk fan-boy of it, I believe I have him to thank...) and discovered that they adjust the test (and the weighing of the results) of the common IQ tests so that both males and females are forced into identical distributions (mean usually 110 but some older tests have it 100). If you use the broadly accepted brain volume vs body mass relationship (for mammals) you will find that the average man has less brain than expected and the average woman more. I don't know what this means other than thinking that we understand intelligence is delusional. Its been said that STEM is difficult. I doubt that anyone who bothered to try to define their terms would actually say that. Being an associate engineer for the cable company is unlikely to be any more intellectually difficult a career than being a used car salesperson, probably LESS difficult.

It will be interesting to know a study made for real academic areas (engineering, mathematics, biology, computer science, physics, etc.) instead of using the made-up category of "STEM" (who lumps stereotypical "nerd" male areas - like mathematics and computer science - , stereotypical "jock" male areas - like engineering - and perhaps seterotypical female areas - like biology, if this is included in "STEM")

I work on water resources. Lab technicians and managers seem to be mostly female. I think flexible working hours may explain a lot.

My impression is that areas involving test tubes tend to be "female"; I wok in an hospital, and pharmaceutics and biochemical analysts are overwhelming women.

he underrepresentation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a continual concern for social scientists and policymakers.

Why do they care?

Why do people look over your shoulder and tell you to play the red 10 on the black Jack when you're playing solitaire? Why do people yell advice to the characters in a movie while in the theater?

LOL.

"is a continual concern for social scientists and policymakers"

Is it a problem for those who actually work in those fields or just for people who professionally kibitz?

First sentence made me laugh:

"The underrepresentation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a continual concern for social scientists and policymakers"

As if anyone is really losing sleep over this. The women-in-STEM talking point is just a prop in the culture wars. No one really thinks womens' QOL is significantly impacted by having disproportionately fewer women sitting behind a computer 10 hours a day. It's not like their alternative is being put out in the fields doing manual labor.

I agree the statement is nonsense. Aside from the faux hand wringing, it's not objectively desirable for society to have equal gender representation, particularly when self selection plays at least some role in the outcome.

It's a worthy objective, though, to identify and remove barriers to entry and participation based primarily on gender. Assuming equal skills, while probably unrealistic, is a useful starting point. Most economic models use homogeneous inputs.

What are “life-quality pressure”? When I googled it the first result that came up was about insects and the other results were not useful either.

Life quality pressure = if you don't do X, you will likely live destitute. An example of X might be joining the military, getting a government job, being corrupt, going to college, etc. In places with greater income inequality, doing X becomes far more important than a country where X is less influential.

"Life quality pressure = if you don’t do X, you will likely live destitute"

I think there is more to it than that. It could also be: "Life quality pressure = if you don’t do X, you will likely live a boring pointless life"

For example, an Iranian girl might have a choice of STEM major, or housewife/mother/maid, without a lot of other easy choices.

PS I'm not saying that being a "housewife/mother/maid" is actually a boring pointless life. But for an adventurous 15 year old girl that's what it looks like.

"The underrepresentation of girls and women ... is a continual concern for social scientists and policymakers" and other people trying to earn a dishonest penny.

Is there a rule of thumb for when to use "gender" and when to use "sex"?

Not without context. There was an Edge.org talk a couple of years ago about the fact that so much of our communication was by shorthand. Unless you know the context of the conversation, you can't know which code word to use to elicit your intended "meme" in the listeners.

"Sex" referred to humans and other fauna and flora, "gender" to nouns, pronouns, adjectives and so forth; then the Thought Police arrived.

Can speak from my personal experience of growing up in India - not exactly known for gender equality. But women being smart and STEM capable seemed like an unexceptional attitude to hold. As you can see the in the Indian space program, women engineers are over-represented. As a personal aside, there was a woman who was at the top of my high school class and no matter how hard we boys worked, she always outscored us. She ended up getting a MS in Computer Science from Berkeley, went back to India (due to marriage pressures - but willingly is what I heard) and got her Ph.D in India, and ended up as an academic in one of the IITs, and a startup-founder to boot.

Stating the obvious. There is a cool Norwegian documentary that explains these things in a more entertaining manner.

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