The Boston Globe recently published an interesting article that provides a common sense account of why more women don’t go into science: they don’t want to.
Quoting several social scientific studies and interviews with their authors, the writer claims that the gender gap in science is greater in countries where women have more rights and overall freedom to choose their professions. She also cites other studies showing that women generally prefer working in people-intensive situations. In psychology, unlike the natural sciences, women outnumber men 10-1.
The findings of these studies have no bearing on whether women suffer from sexism in their scientific careers or whether women are typically discouraged from entering science. For anyone who has had children, the selective bias of girls from human relations and boys for tools seems obvious. Girls generally go for the dolls and boys head towards the trucks.
Perhaps if there’s a lesson to be learned from these studies, it is that science needs to be conducted in a more sociable, humane environment in order to attract more women. Men still set the rules of the game in science, and often it’s not pretty.