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U Of I Project Examines Choices Of Women In Science

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Close-up of a slide being examined under a microscope. (Credit: AP)

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (CBS) — A project at the University of Illinois may bust the stereotype of young women backing away from careers in science.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, Project STEP-UP (STEM Trends in Enrollment and Persistence for Underrepresented Populations) examines the numbers of female undergraduates in the STEM field – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

“Engineering and computer science, physics, chemistry, but also the agricultural sciences and biological sciences and health sciences,” said assistant professor Casey George-Jackson, who runs the program. “So we’re looking at women’s participation across a variety of science space majors, and seeing at the undergraduate level what impacts their decision to enter those fields, but also remain in those fields, and if they don’t remain in those fields, what fields do they switch to?”

George-Jackson says women feel they have to work harder to be taken seriously.

“In our survey, we asked them a series of questions about identifying as a scientist, and do you have to work harder than others to be identified as a scientist,” she said, “and we ran some statistical analysis, and found that women reported having to work harder to be recognized as a scientist, moreso than men, and the difference was statistically significant.”

For more information on Project STEP-UP, click here.