Women Are Choosing Love Over Math & Science Careers

Math and Love stick figures
Love, Self

Math + romance don't add up for women, research shows.

It's widely known that women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM), but who knew romance was the real reason? New research partially funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin says that as soon as women start thinking about love, science and math quickly flee their thoughts. ONE DAY Movie Contest: Tell A Love Story, Win Free Flicks & More

In three different studies, women were exposed to types of goals—romantic, friend-related and academic. In one study, participants were shown different images related to either romance (lovey-dovey beach sunsets, candle-lit dinners, etc.) or intelligence (school books, nerdy specs, and so on). In another study, one group of women overheard conversations about an unnamed person's romantic date (romantic), and about a test somebody had to take (academic). The second group of women also overheard the date conversation, but instead of the test talk, they heard about a recent visit from a friend from an out-of-town friend (friend-related). Divorce Hurts Childrens' Math Scores And Friendships

Next, the ladies were given questionnaires... and what do you know? Those exposed to romance goals were more inclined to perceive STEM fields in a negative way. As if that weren't alarming enough, love can even distract our gender when we're already on the path to science and math careers.

In a third study, women already pursuing a career in math or science were asked to record their goals related to love and intelligence (asking someone on a date, studying for a test) for 21 days. When the ladies were focused on date nights and hot guys, they participated in fewer STEM activities not just for that day, but for the following day too. Ah! What's going on?

"Gender scripts discourage women from appearing intelligent in masculine domains, like STEM, and in fact, studies show that women who deviate from traditional gender norms, such as succeeding in male-typed jobs, experience backlash for violating societal expectations," says the study's lead author, Lora Park. "On the other hand, men in gender-incongruent occupations don't experience the same degree of backlash as women do." Gender Roles Mean Little In Our Marriage

Finding love in your life is important, but we've really got to get more women into the STEM fields. We need some sharp, female minds practicing math and science. So let's forget about these stereotypical gender roles holding us back. Seriously. It's 2011. Let's get with it, ladies!