Understanding Male Bias Against Girls and Women in Science1


  • 1

    This research was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation (#ESI-9553507) and Solutia, Inc. The author thanks Charles Granger and Kenneth R. Mares for their efforts in the development and implementation of the science programs, and the faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis University, and Washington University for their contributions as mentors and presenters in the science enrichment programs.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Jayne E. Stake, Department of Psychology, University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO 63121.


Boys consistently have expressed more negative attitudes toward women in science than have girls. The basis of these negative male attitudes was explored in a sample of 159 male and 158 female science-oriented high school students. The students participated in a science enrichment program in which positive information about women in science was provided. Consistent with theories of prejudice and stereotyping: (a) at the beginning of the program, more negative attitudes toward women in science were linked to lower science self-confidence among boys, but not among girls; and (b) following the program, analysis of residual post-scores (with pre-scores controlled) indicated that changes in self-confidence over the course of the program were related significantly to changes in attitudes toward women in science among boys but not among girls. Implications for girls’ and women's participation in science are discussed.