My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: University of Buffalo Study says Women choose Love over STEM - Contact Sport between the Sexes

Monday, September 12, 2011

University of Buffalo Study says Women choose Love over STEM - Contact Sport between the Sexes

God is Mind, and God is infinite; hence all is Mind

Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health

Yet another controversial piece of research related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and women has surfaced, this time strongly suggesting that females lose interest in their focus on the sciences over a fear that being too brainy makes them unattractive to the opposite sex as stated in the article “Study: Are Women Choosing Romance Over Math and Science?”, published Thursday, August 18, 2011 By MEREDITH MELNICK, TIME Magazine.

This research by Dr. Lora Park, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo, due to its short term methodology, does not answer the reason why females eventually go on to avoid STEM subjects. Romantic interests hardly seem to be the sole causative reason as Dr. Lora Park asserts, quote: “When the goal to be romantically desirable is activated, even by subtle situational cues, women report less interest in math and science. One reason why this might be is that pursuing intelligence goals in masculine fields, such as STEM, conflicts with pursuing romantic goals associated with traditional romantic scripts and gender norms”.

Her guinea pigs, both male and female were exposed to stimuli to predispose them towards answering a questionnaire with regards to their choice of STEM majors. These stimuli ranged from images of STEM pursuits to predispose them towards answering positively towards STEM Majors and romantic images (pornography?) to predispose them towards answering negatively towards STEM Majors.

Then a select group of fifty four (54) female STEM students were questioned for three (3) weeks on their checklist of priorities as it relates to homework, dating and academic achievement. On days where romantic interests were paramount, their studies in STEM subjects suffered, ostensibly from the pressure of having to balance a social life against their love for STEM.

Curiously enough, male STEM students work appeared to be unaffected on days where romantic interest were paramount, suggesting being seen as a scholastic minded intellectual was an accepted social norm among males and thus are always open for romantic pursuits, also anecdotally known information. Where her study get flak is for what it does not question:

1.     What about days where the participants in the study had no activates at all, STEM or non-STEM related?
2.     On days where academic work was the focus, the female participants’ romantic feelings remained unchanged as with males. Females STEM work was just more affected on days where romantic interests were their focus.

Thus the stereotype of the brainy female not having any romantic interest while focused on STEM work is shot to pieces, appearing to be equal to that of males. The problem, it seems, is that females are more worried about supposedly not being feminine when romantic interest abound, wanting to be seen as a “normal” female like her Liberal Arts or Social Science friends as opposed to males, for whom sounding smart is socially acceptable.

In effect, evidence of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as pointed out as noted in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Social Network Prostitution: FOMO drives Millennials to “Inboxing””, as females are more likely to display themselves and be conscious of how others approve of their body image, anecdotal evidence one can glean from Facebook by noting that females are more likely to post pictures of themselves than are males.

At the University of the West Indies, this is prevalent, with more males enrolled in Pure and Applied Sciences Department and pursuing STEM courses, based on the University of the West Indies own statistics. Within the sciences, especially those requiring copious amounts of studying and writing and very little hands on, females predominate e.g. Biology, Bio-Chemistry, Chemistry Food Chemistry, etc. whereas males are more represented in the Computer Sciences, Physics and Applied Chemistry fields.

And yes, from my anecdotal observations between the year 2004AD to 2009AD while I was at the University of the West Indies doing my Degree in Electronics and Chemistry, I noted the very thing as Dr. Lora Park asserts.

Interestingly, consciousness about ones own image, particularly females, is the area of research focus being pursued by UCLA Sociology Ph.D. candidate Kjerstin Gruys in a self-experiment to avoid looking at her image for one (1) whole year as stated in the article “Woman attempts to avoid her image for a year”, published AUGUST 20, 2011 3:16 PM PDT By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, CNET News - Health Tech.

Granted, this gender based slanting towards the Arts and Literature, or Social Sciences (in Jamaica) or the Liberal Arts (USA, EU) can also be noticed in the fact that eReaders are more popular among Women than among Men, with Women readers outnumbering Men readers 3 to 1 according to a 2010AD study by Bowker Research as stated in my blog article entitled “Women adore the Barnes and Noble Nook Colour – Free e-reader Home Improvement”.

The New York Times article entitled “Female Magazine Fans Flock to Nook Color”, published May 22, 2011 By JEREMY W. PETERS, The New York Times points out too that this gender distinction exists even between Tablets and eReaders according to analyst Forrester Research. Of the participants surveyed, 56% of tablet owners are male and 55% of e-reader owners are female.

And with eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle and the glossy magazine ready Barnes and Noble Nook set to overtake Tablets in 2015AD in terms of sheer numbers by being both eReader and Tablet, thanks to Google Android as pointed out in my Geezam blog article entitled “InStat prediction that Tablets to Overtake e-Readers is off base”, the statistics of analyst InStat further reinforce this gender divide.

So albeit her research methodology has more holes in it than a Buffalo (attempt at a joke…) it is nonetheless a snapshot of what is known anecdotally in the male dominated STEM world. This gender bender issue is now evident in the preference among females for eReaders and Tablets and what is says about male perceptions on reading in the Gadget World.

For this, only a paradigm shift in education and empowerment of females to focus on STEM and its long term rewards such as becoming a Developer as stated in my blog article entitled “Computer programming and the coming 4G Explosion - Post-PC Era is Hyperventilating are the only ways forward against what appears to be female and male equality but inequality in how our Male Society views Women’s interests in STEM pursuits, Contact (1997) style.

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