A new study has suggested that more men pursue science and engineering jobs because they readily overestimate how good they are at math.
Washington State University’s Shane Bench said that just because more men pursue careers in science and engineering does not mean they are actually better at math than women are.
Bench added that the difference is that men think they are much better at math than they really are. Women, on the other hand, tend to accurately estimate their arithmetic prowess.
Bench’s study examined how people’s biases and previous experiences about their mathematical abilities make them more or less likely to consider pursuing math-related courses and careers.
Gender gaps in the science, technology, engineering and maths fields are not necessarily the result of women’s underestimating their abilities, but rather may be due to men’s overestimating their abilities, explains Bench.
His team also found that women who had more positive past experiences with mathematics tended to rate their numerical abilities higher than they really were. This highlights the value of positively reinforcing a woman’s knack for mathematics especially at a young age.
The study appears in Springer’s journal Sex Roles.