“Girls were at least as strong in science and math as boys in 60% of the PISA countries. … But when they examined individual students’ strengths more closely, they found that the girls, though successful in STEM, had even higher scores in reading [whereas] … the boys’ strengths were more likely to be in STEM areas. … If boys chose careers based on their own strengths … they would be most likely to land in a STEM discipline. Girls could choose more widely, based on their own strengths.
Based on how female students did in math and science in high school, the researchers predicted that at least 41% of girls would pursue a college STEM degree. This was indeed what they found … but only in countries with relatively weak legal protections for women. … Conversely, nations with the strongest protections for women and the most dependable social safety nets … had the fewest female STEM graduates, about 20% overall. … Wendy Williams, founder and director of the Cornell Institute for Women in Science [argued] … ‘if girls expect they can ‘live a good life’ while working in the arts, health or sciences, then girls choose to pursue what they are best at … However, if the environment offers limited options, and the best ones are in STEM, girls focus there. The study puts the American STEM graduation rate at 24%.”