A fairly recent study points to an interesting reason why women are not entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields: They choose not to. Here’s a quote from the article:

The survey data showed a notable disparity on one point: That men, relative to women, prefer to work with inorganic materials; women, in general, prefer to work with organic or living things. This gender disparity was apparent very early in life, and it continued to hold steady over the course of the participants’ careers.

Benbow and Lubinski also found something else intriguing: Women who are mathematically gifted are more likely than men to have strong verbal abilities as well; men who excel in math, by contrast, don’t do nearly as well in verbal skills. As a result, the career choices for math-precocious women are wider than for their male counterparts. They can become scientists, but can succeed just as well as lawyers or teachers. With this range of choice, their data show, highly qualified women may opt out of certain technical or scientific jobs simply because they can.

These studies looked at different slices of the working world, but agree that in a world in which men and women both have freedom of choice, they tend to choose differently.

Source: Boston Globe