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From “Her” Problem to “Our” Problem: Using an Individual Lens Versus a Social-Structural Lens to Understand Gender Inequity in STEM

  • Kathi N. Miner (a1), Jessica M. Walker (a1), Mindy E. Bergman (a1), Vanessa A. Jean (a1), Adrienne Carter-Sowell (a1), Samantha C. January (a1) and Christine Kaunas (a1)...
Abstract

Increasing the representation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is one of our nation's most pressing imperatives. As such, there has been increased lay and scholarly attention given to understanding the causes of women's underrepresentation in such fields. These explanations tend to fall into two main groupings: individual-level (i.e., her) explanations and social-structural (i.e., our) explanations. These two perspectives offer different lenses for illuminating the causes of gender inequity in STEM and point to different mechanisms by which to gain gender parity in STEM fields. In this article, we describe these two lenses and provide three examples of how each lens may differentially explain gender inequity in STEM. We argue that the social-structural lens provides a clearer picture of the causes of gender inequity in STEM, including how gaining gender equity in STEM may best be achieved. We then make a call to industrial/organizational psychologists to take a lead in addressing the societal-level causes of gender inequality in STEM.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kathi N. Miner, Department of Psychology, TAMU 4235, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. E-mail: kminer@tamu.edu
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