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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN En Línea: 1940-431X

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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2018019995
pages 291-324

REVERSAL OF THE GENDER GAP: THE BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AS A UNIQUE CASE WITHIN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (STEM)

Linda J. Sax
University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, 3045 Moore Hall, 457 Portola Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
Gloria Lim
University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
Kathleen Lehman
University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
Laura Lonje-Paulson
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California 90045, USA

SINOPSIS

Among fields in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the field of biological sciences is unique in that it has evidenced a reversal of the gender gap in participation. Women are no longer underrepresented in the biological sciences degree programs, earning more than half of undergraduate degrees in these fields in 2016 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2018). Despite women's heightened interest in the biomedical fields, little is known about the backgrounds, characteristics, and personality orientations of undergraduates who major in biological sciences or how this differs by gender. Utilizing national data spanning four decades, this study furthers our understanding of the biological sciences talent pool in the following ways: (1) it explores differences in the characteristics of women and men who plan to major in the biological sciences, and (2) examines how this population has evolved over time. The results of this study reveal the types of students who are attracted to biological science majors (e.g., having a parent in a STEM career or having PhD degree aspirations) and show that the salience of some of these traits (e.g., race and self-rated math ability) vary by gender and have shifted over time.


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