When Do Girls Lose Interest In Science & Math

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Would we even discuss this if STEM careers weren’t typically higher paying? There are plenty of professions that are dominated by one gender or the other. People don’t seem to care much about it.


Probably not, but again real estate at least around these parts command big dollars and STEM careers would be ONE means of attaining such real estate. Unless of course you are that BART janitor…

This is interesting article.
I guess what scares girls out is “man dominated environments”.
I understand more boys may like STEM than girls naturally.
However, it may be also true that many girls who like STEM subjects and can perform very well in that area also turn their back on it due to other reasons.
Ever since high school, I have been studying and working in the group where gender ratio is always more than 5:1 (men:women) and sometimes only girl in the group of 30 peopel. Fortunately, I have felt comfortable interacting with (geeky) boys. However, many girls feel very nervous and awkward in that environment and want to run away.
Well, I think things are getting better though.
I see more and more young female engineers at my office.

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That’s one reason I am thinking whether I should put my girls in all-girl high schools. To shield them from excessive gender pressure in the key developmental years. But then I heard girls can be very mean on girls too…

Has anyone considered that perhaps this is a biological change, not an emotional or social one? Is it possible that girls lose interest in math when they hit puberty because of the hormones? Just wondering.

I found this article from someone who started taking testosterone facscinating. She found that physics was more interesting after starting Testosterone shots:


I personally love math, but I’m also a bit of a tom-boy frankly. Maybe that’s not a coincidence.

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Maybe there is biological reason. But we should level the playing field so that girls who are so inclined have the environment to thrive.

The best explanation I have seen so far is that girls are naturally more empathetic and math in the abstract doesn’t seem to do much in helping others. So they are more drawn to biology and social sciences like psychology.

Me, too. :slight_smile:

However, if you look at medical field, there are so many female doctors and researchers.
I don’t think chemistry/biology requires very different aptitude/interest from math/physics.
Both requires curiosity, logical and critical thinking, obsession to solve the problem and so on.
Once we started to see many successful female doctors and researchers, a lot of girls started to feel confident and comfortable to pursue that path.

Hence, I guess environmental factors play out here as well.


I’d argue that they’re also more social. Math is not a social science. I’m an introvert, so curling up with a pencil and paper works for me.

Biology actually requires a ton of memorization–one reason I hated it. Math and physics are more rules applied in various order to create a new outcome.

Chemistry is a bit in the middle. Rules plus memorization.

There is no biological reason - I was on the Board for the Society of Women Engineers and I can tell you there are countless studies showing that most of it stems from early childhood / not being encouraged to try at math like boys are - I like to relate it back to the book Outliers - if you have an advantage to spend more time on something early on you are going to be more likely to be good at it later - a lot of focus on STEM and women comes in highs chool or college when it’s already too late to get them engaged / they are already behind on the curriculum. We have a lot of our own research that has gone into this if curious - http://research.swe.org/

There is also a large study by the NAE - Changing the Conversation - http://www.engineeringmessages.org/ - showing that they way we talk about engineering to females and minorities isn’t what resonates with them career-wise (you have to be good at math and science, you will make a lot of money) - change to - you can make a world of difference, engineers solve world problems, etc. so they have released talking points that should help with that - it’s a slow process.

Anyway, I could go on and on as I focus on this daily but definitely something that should and needs to be changed.


Other professions don’t need these?

I believe many other professions also requires similar aptitude and skills.

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That’s exactly what I am getting to. I heard an interview of an AI lab director at Stanford. I think her name is fei fei li? Anyway she mentioned her experience with the summer camps her lab set up to get girls interested in technology and AI in particular. Turns out if you phrase the research problems in say how to use AI to help patients girls are much more drawn to it. Versus just to optimize a mathematical function.


What? From male dominated to female dominated world? Make all changes that help female succeed and make it worse for males? Better know what you’re doing. I’ve been seeing more and more changes are in favor of females to the detriments of males. Have to shake my heads. I think I need to start an anti-feminist movement.

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Promoting equal rights means less relative advantage for males. By definition.

Unfortunately, now is more than equal rights to females. I guess you’re not aware and don’t think so. But that’s how many males feel. Wait for the revolt similar to the Trump revolt (against graduates, against city folks, against richer folks, etc). Can you see liberals just don’t understand the conservative? You’re in an echo chamber. Go to places where there are tons of conservatives to get an idea of what they are thinking/ feel. Are you trying to get rid of all jobs for males?

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I think females are favored in STEM field. With the same qualification and aptitude, women get better positions and opportunities than men.

So the smaller number of women in STEM field might have more to do with biological reasons than social reasons.

Everyone should work on things they naturally love and happy to do. There is no point to force or entice women to do things they do not really enjoy. It’s a crime to force women to be a software engineer using money when they are not really interested in it

With 60% of college graduate female, women are more worried about finding a husband who is better to equal. Is it a good thing for women themselves to be the bread earner and marry a house-husband? Just from personal feelings, not on abstract ideology. (Omg, PIC)

I am aware but I don’t agree.

Many of the jobs after automation truly takes place will require a large amount of empathy, something that many males lack including me. So the other side of this discussion is how to encourage more males to take up nursing for instance.

What is your point? More competition for a shrinking job pool? How does it help on a macro basis? Equal opportunity is not the same as inducing the other sex to go for the same job… won’t solve the shrinking job pool issue from automation. Possible ways to solve the automation:
a. Stop automation advances.
b. Create more jobs from the thin air if automation didn’t create enough new jobs.
c. Accept the consequence of secular decline in job availability, think of ways to help those jobless such as UBI.
Equal opportunity is not it. Unless you think the other sex is just, may be even better, at those jobs currently held by the opposite sex.