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Study Finds Women Drop Out of Doctoral STEM Programs

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Females entering a doctoral program are less likely to graduate within six years in comparison to their male counterparts.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University has found that for each additional 10 percent women in a program, the gender gap in on-time graduation rate increases by 2 percent.

The researchers surveyed 2,541 students who graduated from six Ohio public universities between 2005 and 2016 and found that “female-friendliness” plays a key role in the gender gap in STEM-related doctoral programs.

“It has been nearly impossible to quantify the climate for women in male-dominated STEM fields,” Valerie Bostwick, co-author of the study, said.

“But our data gave us a unique opportunity to try to measure what it is like for women in STEM. What we found suggests that if there are few or no other women in your incoming class, it can make it more difficult to complete your degree,” she added.

The study also found that a woman joining a class dominated by more men was 7 percent less likely to graduate within six years. It also showed the importance of a support system among women.

Women without female counterparts in a doctoral class were 10 percent likely to drop out in the first year, according to the study.

The researchers further found that the research funding and grades were the two main reasons for the women dropping out of the doctoral programs.

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