Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Women can do math careers, they just put motherhood first

Carolyn Moynihan

Why are women under-represented in fields such as computer science, physics, technology, engineering, chemistry and higher mathematics? Four years ago the former president of Harvard, Larry Summers, got into big trouble for suggesting that it may be because of innate differences between men and women. While feminists reached for the smelling salts and consulted anti-discrimination law, researchers from Cornell University got busy and reviewed more than 400 articles and book chapters to reconcile conflicting evidence on why women tend to choose less math-intensive fields (such as biology, medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine), and why, when they do choose math-intensive careers, they are more likely to drop out as they advance.

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