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Study: "Micro-Biases" Adversely Impact Female Engineering Students

Contrary to popular belief, the reason that fewer women than men stick with engineering majors and enter engineering careers is not necessarily related to their ambitions to start a family.  More likely, women's shaky "professional role confidence" is to blame, according to a study in this month's issue of the American Sociological Review.  According to the study's lead author, Erin Cech, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University's Clayman Institute for Gender Research, despite the fact that women perform comparably to men in engineering classes, subtle biases get in the way and undermine  women's confidence. "What we found is that the women in our study developed less confidence in their engineering expertise than men did and they also developed less confidence that engineering is the career that fits them best, even though they went through the same preparation process as men," Cech says.  The study is part of "Future Paths: Developing Diverse Leadership for Engineering," a project funded by the National Science Foundation.
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