From: Campus Reform
STUDY: Women leaving STEM due to depression, unhappiness
Jul 26, 2018
A new study has discovered that depression, rather than sexism or discrimination, is driving women’s desire to leave STEM fields.
“In terms of reported work engagement, depression, perfectionistic discrepancy, and stigma consciousness were significant negative predictors, while having perfectionistic high standards positively predicted work engagement,” the abstract reports, adding that “for work engagement, lack of comparable pay was a nonsignificant predictor.”
The study led by Department of Veteran Affairs Researcher Erin Reilly, “The Relationship Among Stigma, Consciousness, Perfectionism, and Mental Health in Retaining Women in STEM,” was published in the newest issue of the Journal of Career Development.
The work sought to shed light on the mass exodus of women from STEM. As Reilly and her team note, previous research has shown that 52 percent of women leave STEM mid-career to stay at home or to join other fields.
“[I]n the [United States] alone, approximately 3,000 PhD-trained women leaving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) result in an economic loss of US$1.5 billion per year,” the researchers note. …
Though the researchers acknowledge that they could not clinically diagnose any interviewees with depression, respondents were asked whether they “felt nervous, felt so down nothing could cheer them up…[or] felt downhearted and blue” during the preceding month.
After analysing the data, researchers concluded that “women with higher levels of depression and perfectionistic discrepancy reported greater levels of intent to leave their current job,” adding that “depression was a consistent predictor of job outcome variables.” …
A recent study by Colorado School of Mines professor Greg Rulifson tracked 21 female students who started out as STEM majors in college, finding that one-third left STEM to major in fields that involve more “social responsibility.”
“Women in engineering are more motivated by helping others, and engineering education needs to provide more examples of engineering as a helping profession,” Rulifson recommended. …