Why Women Are Discouraged From Becoming Scientists

In recent years, concern about the underrepresentation of women in science, particularly the physical and mathematical sciences, has increased, motivated by both equity considerations and the growing shortage of United States scientists and engineers. In contrast to the traditional focus on questions of ability and discrimination, a new issue has come to the fore, namely the assertion by some gender theorists that science is inherently masculine, where masculine is understood as a cultural rath

Mary Beth Ruskai
Mar 4, 1990

In recent years, concern about the underrepresentation of women in science, particularly the physical and mathematical sciences, has increased, motivated by both equity considerations and the growing shortage of United States scientists and engineers. In contrast to the traditional focus on questions of ability and discrimination, a new issue has come to the fore, namely the assertion by some gender theorists that science is inherently masculine, where masculine is understood as a cultural rather than as a biological construct.

Unfortunately, the gender difference debate also has developed in ways that seem to perpetuate stereotypes about science and scientists. Such assertions that science is not creative, that science is not intuitive, or that scientists use numbers as their whole means of discovery are common. Critiques based on such notions not only are incapable of generating constructive criticism, but also may actually contribute to the cultural milieu that discourages women from pursuing...