Belief in Brilliance may keep women out

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When scholars talk about the culture of STEM or the culture of a specific STEM discipline, one important attitude to pay attention to is the importance a discipline's scholars place on the belief that being brilliant is important to succeed.  A recent study appearing in Science, "Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines" by Sarah-Jane Leslie, Andrei Cimpian, Meredith Meyer, Edward Freeland found that across graduate students, postpdoctoral fellows and faculty across nine major research institutions, the fields' scholars with higher ratings linking reasons for success to possessing "an innate gift or talent" or "a special aptitude that can't be taught" have fewer women compared to fields with higher ratings of the importance of "motivation and sustained effort".  When corrected for sample size challenges, the authors say that the gender-balanced score for each discipline's belief in the importance of genious also predicted the gender composition differences actually observed in various fields represented on the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates.