IU-Bloomington to spend $1.2M studying lack of women in STEM

Indiana University, Bloomington is dumping $1.2 million into a project to examine why women occupy a “relatively small percentage” of jobs in STEM fields.

Professor Adam Maltese, who teaches science education, will lead the three-year “Role Models in Engineering Education” project, particularly examining the effect a mentor can have on the interest in STEM among children, especially females.

[RELATED: Prof: Efforts to recruit women for STEM ‘may be backfiring’]

Maltese hopes to expound on his previous research on the topic, which found that women in STEM tend to credit their initial interest in the field to a motivational and encouraging individual in their lives. The study showed that men, on the other hand, mostly claimed an intrinsic internal motivation for pursuing STEM-related careers.

His new initiative is  being funded by the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts University in conjunction with the National Science Foundation.

“If we recognize that differences exist in how people get interested, and embrace that diversity when we work to increase interest, I think we’ll see better outcomes,” Maltese remarked in a press release, acknowledging that it will take more than “one strategy” to fix the problem.

Large projects of this kind are not a new development, however, as Campus Reform recently reported that the National Science Foundation provided over $8 million for 27 new grants seeking to provide diverse and inclusive additions to STEM faculty.

[RELATED: Prof finds 'no evidence' sexism is behind gender gap in STEM]

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 24 percent of women in the United States were employed in STEM careers in 2017, whereas women accounted for more than 50 percent of college-educated employees in the country.

Campus Reform reached out to Maltese for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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