Speed Reads

Girl Power

The gender gap is wider in fields associated more with 'brilliance' than hard work

The gender gap in some academic fields is greater than others. What's the pattern behind it?

A new study being released in Friday's issue of Science posits one answer: It's based on which fields people perceive as requiring an innate "brilliance."

"Even if a woman feels completely confident in her own ability, she may still be discouraged from participating in a discipline that sends these messages," Princeton University lead researcher Sarah-Jane Leslie said at a news conference. "She may be concerned that other people will view her as less suited to do high-level work."

Fields like physics and philosophy are harder for women to break into because women are not typically perceived as having raw intellectual brilliance, Leslie said.