Is The Stereotype That ‘Women Can’t Be Geniuses’ Causing Gender Gaps?

By: Bahar Gholipour
Published: 01/16/2015 11:22 AM EST on LiveScience

The gender gap in certain academic fields may be due to those fields’ emphasis on brilliance (rather than hard work, for example) and stereotypes that hold that women can’t be geniuses, new research suggests.

Researchers surveyed 1,820 people working in academia in the U.S. in 30 disciplines, ranging from computer science to music composition, asking them what is required for succeeding in their field. In some fields, success was viewed as a matter of hard work and dedication, but in others, having a special inborn talent was seen as more important. [5 Reasons Women Trail Men in Science]

The researchers found a trend: The more importance that the academics in a given field placed on being brilliant, the lower the percentage of women with Ph.D.s there was in that field, according to the study, published today (Jan. 15) in the journal Science.

People’s ideas about the importance of brilliance in attaining success didn’t seem related to the difficulty of their field. Indeed, fields that emphasized brilliance and had lower female participation were not necessarily more difficult to gain entry into, compared with other disciplines, said study author Sarah-Jane Leslie, a professor —> Read More Here


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