Romance diminishes women's interest in STEM fields, US research finds

August 16, 2011

A series of US research projects suggest that when college-age women think about romance, they become less interested in pursuing studies in science and math. In a pair of studies, women who were exposed to romantic images were later found to have a less positive feeling about STEM fields and to say they were less likely to major in them. In another study, female undergraduate students in a math course were given a mobile device to record their strivings and activities in several areas, including academics and romance. The study found that when women were focused on romance, they felt good about themselves, but were not invested in the math course. Whenever the students considered themselves attractive or desirable, the next day they would be disengaged from the class. While acknowledging that the research will be controversial, the lead researcher says focusing on such questions could help confront the gender gap in STEM fields. Inside Higher Ed