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Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering
longer a gender gap for the studies to explain. Third, most studiesof cognitive sex differences at the highest levels of mathematicaland scientific ability also focus on measures that predict success inhigh school and college. These measures, however, have not provedto be predictive of success in later science careers.2Thus, we cannot look to cognitive sex differences to explain the differentialsuccess of men and women scientists and engineers.
2-1. A large body of research has probed the existence and nature ofcognitive sex differences.
2-2. Most discussions of cognitive sex differences emphasize a smallnumber of measures showing sex differences and de-emphasize theoverlap between men and women on those measures as well as the largenumber of measures by which sex differences are small, nonexistent, orfavor women.
2-3. Studies of brain structure and function, of hormonal modulationof performance, of human cognitive development, and of human evolution have not revealed significant biological differences between menand women in performing science and mathematics that can accountfor the lower representation of women in these fields.
2-4. The academic success of girls now equals or exceeds that of boysat the high school and college levels, rendering moot all discussions ofthe biological and social factors that once produced sex differences inachievement at these levels.
2-5. Measures of aptitude for high school and college science have notproved to be predictive of success in later science and engineering careers. Notably, it is not just the top SAT scorers who continue on tosuccessful careers; of the college-educated professional workforce inmathematics, science, and engineering, fewer than one-third of the menhad SAT-M scores above 650, the lower end of the threshold typicallypresumed to be required for success in these fields.
2-6. The differing social pressures and influences on boys and girlsappear to have more influence than their underlying abilities on theirmotivations and preferences.
Y Xie and KA Shauman (2003). Women in Science: Career Processes and Outcomes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.