PhD: Pushing women into STEM could 'diminish their happiness'

Toni Airaksinen

  • A newly-minted sociology PhD from Emory University argues in a new book that efforts to get more women into STEM fields could actually "diminish their happiness."
  • Citing research indicating that men and women tend to have different academic interests, Chris Martin argues that the primary consideration is whether women are "fulfilled in careers they choose."
  • An Emory University academic argued in a recently published book that pushing women into STEM disciplines could, in fact, “diminish their happiness.”

    Chris Martin, who recently earned a PhD in sociology from Emory University, argued that pushing women into STEM fields could reduce their happiness because they may be more likely to enjoy other academic fields, such as psychology or sociology.

    "Women can be just as fulfilled in careers they choose, regardless of whether they're in STEM or not."   

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

    “Attempts to create parity in STEM can involve pulling women out of fields that they are intrinsically motivated to pursue, which could diminish their happiness,” Martin wrote, pointing to research that shows men are, generally speaking, more interested in “things” while women are drawn to “people.”

    Additionally, Martin told Campus Reform that people shouldn’t impose on women’s freedom to choose which field they study.

    “Women can be just as fulfilled in careers they choose, regardless of whether they're in STEM or not. We don't have to always think of women as the ‘disadvantaged’ sex,” he elaborated, criticizing efforts to achieve a 50-50 gender ratio in STEM.

    “One thing we need to convey is not that there is a correct gender ratio,” he said, adding that “if there is a field with 70% men and 30% women, that’s not necessarily a problem.”

    [RELATED: Feds dole out $3M to fight ‘microaggressions’ in STEM fields]

    He did acknowledge that discrimination can be a legitimate problem, but warned against viewing it as the sole cause of all gender gaps, pointing out that "You can have a field that's 50-50 that's full of discrimination, and you can have a field that's 30-70 and not have any.”

    Martin published his thoughts in the recent anthology Politics of Social Psychology Research, which was co-edited by Rutgers University Professor Lee Jussim, who has long been a vocal advocate on such issues.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen is a New Jersey-based Campus Reform contributor, and previously served as a Senior Campus Correspondent. Her reporting focuses on campus First Amendment, Title IX, Equal Opportunity, and due process issues, and her stories have been profiled by numerous outlets including Fox News, The New York Post, PBS News, and The Washington Examiner.
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