Yet women are still far underrepresented in STEM, earning only a third or less of all doctorates in the areas of computer science, math and engineering, according to the National Science Foundation. Cultural stereotypes about intelligence pull women away from science, according to a 2013 study in the journal .Researchers found that women who demonstrate an aptitude in STEM often opt out of the fields in favor of “typically female” professions, if they have broad academic talents.But if, like Yang, a women STEM is feminine or pretty, she faces a contrary stigma about deficiencies in her ability or intellect.“There are all these contradictions that are propagated in our culture that make it seem like you can’t be smart and sexy.When she got offered a place in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Ph. One of her mother’s friends even quipped that Yang—a self-described “fairly standard-looking, petite Asian woman”—didn’t look like a scientist.
On the one hand, there’s the typecast image of the frumpy, unattractive female scientist who considers dressing up wearing a lab coat.
I don’t think most of us challenge the paradigms, we just absorb them,” says Eileen Pollack, who explored the gender gap in the sciences in an October 2013 magazine article.