This is an interesting thesis which could be further examined if the researchers could undertake an examination of whether the under-represented groups do not have a deficiency of brilliance, but rather an over-abundance of modesty. Such an abundance would lead them to underestimate their own brilliance and thereby avoid areas where is is overvalued.
Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines
Sarah-Jane Leslie1,*,†, Andrei Cimpian2,*,†, Meredith Meyer3, Edward Freeland4
The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans’ underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses.