Seeking congruity between goals and roles: A new look at why women opt out of STEM careers
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Although women have nearly attained equality with men in several formerly male-dominated fields, they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We argue that one important factor is that STEM careers are perceived as less likely than other careers to fulfill communal goals. Such perceptions might disproportionately affect women’s decisions, because women especially endorse communal goals. As predicted, STEM careers, relative to other careers, were perceived to impede communal goals. Moreover, communal goal endorsement negatively predicted interest in STEM careers, even when controlling for past experience and self-efficacy in science and math. Understanding how communal goals influence interest in STEM fields thus provides a new perspective on the question of women’s representation in STEM.