What’s keeping women out of the labs?

From BBC News:

Women If you’ve worked your way to the top in a university maths, physics or engineering department – you’re very unlikely to be a woman. But why should this be?

Despite changing attitudes, there are still very few women at the highest levels in certain fields. In 2005/6, while more than half of all UK students in higher education were female, just 3% of maths and 2% of civil engineering professors were women, a recent study revealed. Professor David Geary, of the University of Missouri in the US, suggests there are two key difference between the sexes that might account for the disparity in numbers. The first is a difference in spatial abilities – the capacity to visualise things, particularly in three dimensions. The second is an increased interest in objects and how things work. According to Dr Cronin, who studies evolutionary theory and sex difference at the London School of Economics, it’s the numbers of men at the extremes of ability that are most telling: “For males, the difference between the worst and the best is far, far greater. “This is a very important aspect of male-female differences.

“One way of looking at this is that among males there are more dumbbells, but there are also more Nobels.”

More here.