762   Insight talk

The effect of gender equality on the masculine image of physics and math in Japan and in the UK

Author: Hiromi Yokoyama
The University of Tokyo, Kavli IPMU, Japan, Japan

It is known worldwide that there are fewer women working in and studying physics and engineering than in biology and chemistry. A previous study (Cheryan et al. 2017) conducted in the US devised a model to explain the strong masculine-based image of physics and engineering compared with biology, chemistry, and mathematics using three assemblages: (1) the masculine culture of the fields of study, (2) insufficient early experience, and (3) gender gaps in self-efficacy. Each assemblage consists of several items to explain the gender discrepancy. Considering that Japan is a lower gender-equal country (114th on the Global Gender Gap index), we improved the model by adding one assemblage, (4) gender equality/attractive culture, to explain the masculine-based image of physics and mathematics in Japan.

In this study, we turned our attention to physics and mathematics. We conducted online questionnaires in Japan and in the UK to investigate several factors, including (1) to (4) related to the masculine-based image of physics and mathematics, and to identify any unique factors in Japan and the UK. The online questionnaires were designed based on this model.

We found that some items in the additional assemblage, (4) gender equality/attractive culture of physics or mathematics, were significantly related to the masculine-based image of physics or mathematics in each country: The first item was “attraction to the opposite sex,” which was significant both for physics and mathematics in the UK. In Japan, the item of “intellectual women” was significant only in mathematics. These results suggest that the added assemblage, (4) gender equality/attractive culture of physics or mathematics, partially contributed to the masculine image of physics and mathematics, both in the UK and in Japan.

Co-author: Yuko Ikkatai
Kavli IPMU, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Co-author: Kei Kano
Shiga University, Japan

Co-author: Euan Mckay
The University of Tokyo, United Kingdom

Co-author: Azusa Minamizaki
Nagoya University, Japan

Co-author: Atsushi Inoue
Nippon Institute for Research Advancement, Japan

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