The e-bulletin “This Week in Psychological Science“ (from the Association for Psychological Science) for today announces the article:
Seeking Congruity Between Goals and Roles: A New Look at Why Women Opt Out of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Careers
Amanda B. Diekman, Elizabeth R. Brown, Amanda M. Johnston, and Emily K. Clark
Notice “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics”, putting together four fields of study and career areas that constitute a folk taxon — we think of these things as together constituting some sort of conceptual unit — that has no fixed label (but is referred to only by enumerations like this one, or by “Scientists and Technical Professionals” in the name of NOGLSTP, the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals”, or by “Science and Engineering” or “Science and Mathematics” in the titles of numerous organizations and events).
But you don’t have to go on talking cumbersomely about “science, technology, engineering and mathematics” when in fact the useful acronym STEM is available, as in the abstract for the article:
Women remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Male and female volunteers completed questionnaires rating career interests and goals and previous experiences with mathematics and science. Results suggest that STEM careers, relative to other careers, were perceived to impede communal goals (e.g., helping other people). In addition, volunteers endorsing communal goals were less interested in STEM careers than were volunteers not endorsing communal goals. Such perceptions may disproportionately affect women’s career decisions, because women tend to endorse communal goals more than do men.
I’m not claiming that the acronym is original with these authors. I don’t know the facts of the matter, and they’re not really relevant to my point here, which is only that people sometimes show ingenuity in devising labels for unlabeled folk taxa.
This isn’t a posting about the content of the article, though that’s also of interest to me, since I have a STEM daughter. (Note that STEM shifts from a conjunctive reading to a disjunctive one in this context. Elizabeth is certainly in T, in E as well by some people’s reckoning, but not, professionally, in M or S.)