As job opportunities grow in the STEM fields, there is an increased focus on getting women involved – and women are more comfortable in same sex peer groups in STEM fields, according to a new study.
A study published in the journal Psychological and Cognitive Sciences finds that women who drop a STEM major in college do so because of “individual differences” but the reason may be for differences in sex composition. Since men dominate tech classrooms, women’s motivation, participation and overall aspiration are lowered.
However, the authors find that most studies focus on the fact of a difference and not so much data driven solutions. Most studies do not look at sex parity or groups with equal numbers of men and women. This study corrects that method.
The results of the study involving 100 women in STEM fields showed that the sex composition of groups had a large effect on the students. Same sex peer groups can enhance a student’s learning.
“…unlike experts who are successful and advanced relative to young students, peers are at the same stage of development, making their social influence psychologically different,” researchers wrote. “Female peers may be less effective because they have not reached high levels of success as experts. Alternatively, peers may be more effective because of their greater similar to young students.”