Science, Technology, Engineering and... Masculinity? How psychological theory can help understand and improve the gender gap within STEM subjects

Abstract

The under-representation of females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is a key educational issue which warrants discussion. This paper explores the gender gap in STEM education from a psychological perspective, drawing on Social Learning Theory and Social Identity Theory to explain the phenomenon. This paper highlights that same-sex STEM role models are an important source of learning which are missing from many females’ early experiences. However, it is concluded that the in-group male prototype and unwelcoming social environments found in STEM education, threaten females’ social identity and significantly impact on persistence in STEM education. In evaluating interventions to encourage female participation in STEM education, it is recommended that future intervention targets both male and female students and focuses on mixed-gender environments to reflect the reality of studying STEM subjects.

Vickers, M. (2020) Science, Technology, Engineering and... Masculinity? How psychological theory can help understand and improve the gender gap within STEM subjects. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 11(1). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=12112 [Accessed 25 Nov, 2020].