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Academic Achievement Isn't Why There Are More Men Than Women Majoring in Physics, Engineering, Computer Science

A girl in a science class.

In a new study, New York University researchers found that the gender disparity of college students majoring in physics, engineering, and computer science is not caused by higher math or science achievement among the men.

Credit: SDI Productions/Getty Images

A study by New York University (NYU) researchers found that higher academic achievement among men is not the underlying reason for more men than women majoring in physics, engineering, and computer science (PECS).

NYU's Joseph R. Cimpian said these majors draw and retain lower-achieving males, with the result of women being underrepresented but demonstrating higher science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competence and academic achievement.

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,000 U.S. high-school students over seven years, and determined that males in the first percentile were majoring in PECS at the same rate as females in the 80th percentile.

The researchers also learned that the lowest-achieving male student was as least as likely to major in PECS as the highest-achieving female student.

Said Cimpian, "This new evidence ... suggests that efforts to dismantle barriers to women in these fields would raise overall quality of students."

From New York University
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