Wang, M., & Degol, J. (2013). Motivational pathways to STEM career choices: Using expectancy–value perspective to understand individual and gender differences in STEM fields. Developmental Review, 33(4), 1-37
- This paper was a literature review of research about gender differences in STEM education levels and careers in the United States, including any evidence available for specific cultural, biological, and psychological theories for gender differences in STEM.
- The authors summarized evidence from existing studies, organized around three main types of influences on decision making: psychological (perceived self-competence, goals, and interests); socialization (societal and cultural beliefs that shape an individual’s belief and value systems); and biological (hormonal and genetic factors).
- The authors found evidence of psychological influences on women’s participation in STEM careers, including women preferring more people-oriented jobs than STEM careers typically provide, and women leaving more intensive STEM careers after having children because of their work–family preferences. In terms of socialization influences, the authors found evidence of the importance of school factors, including teachers’ instructional practices, the structure of schools or classrooms, and teachers’ abilities to forge positive relationships with students, in influencing female students’ interest and abilities in STEM fields. In addition, the study highlighted evidence that values, belief systems, and family support can influence girls’ interest and success in STEM fields.
- The study noted that other studies have found biological differences in terms of hormone production and brain organization between men and women, but that these differences have not conclusively been linked to any behavior or ability levels in men and women.
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