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Women are fewer than men in science and engineering, therefore, the assumption is that women generally prefer arts and humanities. But to some analysts, the reason for the low percentage of women in these careers may be due to innate mental and psychological differences between them and men. Others contend that women have the capacity to excel in any profession and that their fewness in science and engineering can be attributed to other factors. They urge educational institutions and employers to develop programs and specific policies that would allow women to strike a better balance between the demands of work and those of family. One may ask: was the absence of equitable programs and policies responsible for the predominance of men in certain professions in the past? Or is it a genetic difference that prevents many women from specializing in these professions?
This paper examines the gender gap in science and engineering; the proposed theories that exist and the validity of the theories. The paper addresses the following questions: Are women underrepresented in science, mathematics and engineering? Whys is this so? What are the competing theories and how valid are they? If women are truly underrepresented, what efforts are we making to correct that phenomenon? Do women in science and engineering reach the top in their fields? If not, why? For the purpose of this paper, women in academia and industries will be the focus.
American Society for Engineering Education