385 Gender & STEM

Research by Niepel, Christopher, Stadler, M., & Greiff, Samuel. (2019).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Do many still believe the stereotype “boys are better at math than girls”? How does this gender bias affect women? Females score equal to males on math tests, yet females report lower levels of mathematics self-concept (i.e., feeling capable in math). Does the stereotype impact their hiring as well as their success in occupations in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)?

Psychologists studied whether having more women in STEM jobs affects students’ math self-concept. They examined the extent this occurred using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment and the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural data. Over 120,000 students from 23 countries participated.

They analyzed each student’s math self-concept and math achievement. They identified the percent of women currently in STEM employment in each country.

Results? After controlling for individual and school-level achievements, females reported higher math self-esteem in countries where there was a higher female percent employed in STEM occupations. Women feel more capable in math when more women are recognized and employed for their math skills.

Companies! Don’t miss hiring qualified women. Overcome your stereotypes. With diversity female’s sense of math competency rises, adding more competitiveness.


Niepel, C., Stadler, M., & Greiff, S. (2019). Seeing is believing: Gender diversity in STEM is related to mathematics self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1-12.


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