Women in countries with better gender equality are less likely to choose STEM careers, says a new study published in Psychological Science. Women in countries with less gender equality are more likely to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and math. Reason? Women are more likely to pursue careers they enjoy in egalitarian societies versus careers that would make them more money.

In less equal societies, women do not have safety nets such as welfare and will pursue STEM because of financial stability

“Some would say that the gender STEM gap occurs not because girls can’t do science, but because they have other alternatives, based on their strengths in verbal skills,” explained Janet Shibley Hyde. The gender-studies professor at the University of Wisconsin was involved in the study.

“In wealthy nations, they believe that they (women) have the freedom to pursue those alternatives and not worry so much that they pay less.”

In the US, only 18 per cent of the computer science degrees go to women. In Algeria, 41 per cent of students in STEM are female.

Women have the same aptitude for STEM careers as men do

The study looked at test scores across 67 countries and regions. It found that girls performed about as well or better than boys did in science in most countries. In almost all countries, girls would have been capable of college-level science and math classes if they had enrolled in them.

But women and men differed in relative strengths. So even if a girl was as good as a boy at science, she would be even better at reading. Across all countries, 24 per cent of girls had science as their best subject, 25 per cent of girls’ strength was math, and 51 per cent excelled in reading. For boys, the percentages were 38 for science, 42 for math, and 20 for reading.

The study’s author says that girls have advantages in basic languages and a greater interest in reading: they read more and thus practice more.

So gender equality allows girls to not pursue STEM if they don’t want to.

Also Read: Anouska Streets On Why Gender Imbalance Is Still Significant In STEM

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