Stay on target NASA Invites U.S. Students to Name Mars 2020 RoverLego’s New Boost Coding Kits Let You Build and Control R2-D2 New research suggests that countries with greater gender equality (yay!) have fewer women earning degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (boo!).Dubbed the “gender equality paradox,” a study by the Leeds Beckett School of Social Sciences and the University of Missouri reports a higher percentage of female STEM graduates in Turkey and Algeria versus Finland, Norway, or Sweden.Analysts chalk this anomaly up to the idea that many nations that discriminate toward women also have less welfare support, making a relatively high-paid STEM career more attractive.(I think it might also have something to do with progressive, inclusive nations scrimping on initiatives encouraging young girls to consider traditionally male-dominated fields.)It’s possible, however, that the discrepancy simply boils down to our genes.Based on a dataset of 475,000 children across 67 regions, researchers discovered that while boys’ and girls’ achievement in STEM courses was broadly similar, science is more likely to be young men’s best subject.On the other hand, girls—even when their ability equals or excels that of boys’—are prone toward reading comprehension. Lasses also tend to register a lower interest in science subjects, according to the study.Which, in turn, means they are less willing to keep up with the topic as they age.“The further you get in secondary and then higher education, the more subjects you need to drop until you end with just one,” Gijsbert Stoet, a Leeds Beckett professor of psychology, said in a statement. “We are inclined to choose what we are best at and also enjoy. This makes sense and matches common school advice.”So, as Stoet explained, even though girls can match wits with their other-gendered pupils, if science and mathematics aren’t their best subjects and they’re less interested in them, “then they’re likely to choose to study something else.”Fair enough. But as someone leading a group of Scottish Girlguides through STEM-based activities for six months, I remain hopeful that at least some of the young women I mentor each week will earn a new respect and love for these critical courses. There are only so many statistics about the dwindling numbers female scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians I can read before I lose all faith in humanity.Although women are thriving in life sciences, they continue to be underrepresented in inorganic disciplines, like computer science and physics.“In more liberal and wealthy countries, personal preferences are more strongly expressed,” David Geary, professor of psychological sciences at MU, said in a statement.Which, he continued, allows women to take into consideration their academic strengths and interests when making college and career choices, versus underprivileged countries, where their opinions may be stifled.“It’s important to take into account that girls are choosing not to study STEM for what they feel are valid reasons, so campaigns that target all girls may be a waste of energy and resources,” according to Stoet.“If governments want to increase women’s participation in STEM, a more effectively strategy might be to target the girls who are clearly being ‘lost’ from the STEM pathway: those for whom science and math are their best subjects and who enjoy it but still don’t choose it.” “If we can understand their motivations, then interventions can be designed to help them change their minds,” he added.Early this year, the Pew Research Center reported that most STEM-based women who hold a postgraduate degree, work in male-dominated departments, or have a career in computers say they have been targeted as a result of their gender.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.