Campus Reform | PhD: Pushing women into STEM could 'diminish their happiness'

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

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.

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“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.”

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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