EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Parents may inhibit girls' interest and performance in science, study says

Parents are more likely to believe that science is less interesting and more difficult for their daughters than sons, and their beliefs appear to affect children's interest and performance in science, according to research published in the January issue of Developmental Psychology.

The study may help explain why women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering labor force, according to authors Harriet R. Tenenbaum, a graduate of the UC Santa Cruz doctoral program in psychology and a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, and Campbell Leaper, a professor of psychology at UCSC.

Parents also appear to use different language when discussing science and interpersonal relationships with their sons and daughters. Fathers engaged in scientific activities with their children were more likely to use challenging or scientific language with their sons than with their daughters, while they were more likely to ask daughters challenging questions about interpersonal dilemmas.

Tenenbaum and Leaper speculate that the differences contribute to the gender gap in scientific and interpersonal interest and skills.

What: Parent-Child Conversations About Science: The Socialization of Gender Inequities?

Where: January issue of Developmental Psychology

Who: Harriet R. Tenenbaum

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Campbell Leaper


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