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Lost Talent

Lost Talent

Sandra L. Hanson
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Lost Talent
    Book Description:

    "Sandra Hanson demonstrates the progressive loss of women to science--and science to women--through discriminatory actions and policies of key institutions and unequal resources offered to young women and men. Her detailed analyses disclose the complex process by which gender, race and class determine who stays in science--and why." --Mary Frank Fox, School of History, Technology, and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology In this pathbreaking book, Sandra Hanson asks what compels so many talented young women to leave the professions of science and mathematics? When do they leave and why? Why do equally qualified girls and boys have such different experiences with science education? What are the patterns for women who do stay in school and pursue a scientific career? What difference does family background make? Exactly how significant are differences of race and class? In this research project, Hanson examines several unusually large and subtle, nationally representative, longitudinal data sets. The data include information on a multitude of distinctions by race, class background, school experiences, school resources, to name a few. Hanson examines this information with a particular focus on the differences in achievement within and across the disciplines, varying access to physical resources, and differential activities in both math and science for young women in the education process. The challenge faced by the United States in the next two decades is developing a balanced, qualified, and well-trained workforce for jobs in science and other technical fields. For Hanson it includes equity for women and creating conditions such that young girls who start out doing well in science do not end up with little training and knowledge. The recovery of this "lost talent" is the central concern of this book. "Lost Talent compels us to think about the experiences of women in science in an entirely new and comprehensive way--how they differ from men in their activities, achievement, access, and attitudes about science. Particularly refreshing is Hanson's recognition that women scientists are not a monolithic group. I found her broadened focus on women of various race and ethnic groups more inclusive and informative that previous books on women in science." --Shirley Vining Brown, Senior Research Scientist, Special Populations Group, Educational Testing Service "Lost Talent is a pathbreaking work. It is concerned with the relatively low long term rate of female involvement and achievement in science. Much of the effort to understand the origins of these phenomena has focused on single factors, usually examined at a moment in time, and frequently based on unrepresentative samples and inconsistent measures. Sandra Hanson seeks to remedy many of these deficiencies in this book. Her dynamic, multidimensional approach deepens our insights into the complex patterns and produces new evidence about the trajectories of these women among the various states of science involvement within the education system and their major determinants. It will be required reading for all who seek to better our understanding of this important issue." --Alan Fechter,, President, Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0584-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
    (pp. 1-23)

    Young girls do not start out with low achievement in science. (In this book, the term “science” is often used to refer to the areas of science, math, and engineering.) Early in the high school years, however, many girls experience the beginning of a departure from science typified by enrollment in fewer science courses, lowered achievement and increasingly negative attitudes. The significant loss of talented young women from science education and occupations is the focus of this book.

    Even though women have been entering the formal workplace in record numbers since the middle of the twentieth century, they have not...

    (pp. 24-47)

    What are the science experiences of boys and girls in the middle school and early high school years? Answers to this question come from the LSAY and NELS data sets.

    Figures 2-1 through 2-4 present data on experiences involving science achievement, access, attitudes, and activities, respectively, for the LSAY sample. Figures 2-5 through 2-8 present this information for the NELS sample. Tables including percentages and tests for significance are presented in the Appendix. Only differences that are statistically significant will be noted in this discussion. Recall that the LSAY students were in seventh grade in the 1987 school year and...

    (pp. 48-91)

    One of the main assumptions of this research is that critical family, school, and individual resources are needed in order to succeed in science. Do young women have different amounts of these resources than young men? Table 3-1 presents a list of resources that theory and research suggest might affect science experiences. Let us first consider family resources. Here we see a number of Significant differences between males and females, and in all but one case, the differences favor the males. The young men in the sample are more likely to come from a high-SES family, have their father in...

    (pp. 92-146)

    Of critical importance in an understanding of young women’s experiences in the sciences is the causal process. Of special import in this causal process is a discovery of the role that gender per se plays in affecting science experiences. That is, when other important predictors of science experiences (family, school, and individual resources) are taken into account, does the fact of being a female or a male still have an impact on what happens in the science arena? A second important question about the role of gender has to do with the interaction between gender and resources. Do resources have...

    (pp. 147-171)

    The comparisons of predictive models for young women and young men gave us some insight into the role that gender plays in affecting experiences in science. Now we shall limit our attention to young women. Given their greater amount of lost talent (in two of the three areas of science) and lesser chances of success (in two of the three areas of science) relative to young men, what are the important variables in predicting successful science experiences for young women? Alternatively, which variables are important in predicting lost talent among young women? Thus, the first goal of this chapter is...

    (pp. 172-190)

    This research has taken a comprehensive look at the science experiences of young women in the United States. Using several nationally representative, longitudinal data sets, it has focused on multiple aspects of science experience, including achievement, access, attitudes, and activities in both math and science. Science experiences beginning in seventh grade and continuing through the post-high school years have been examined. The emphasis has been on lost talent. The findings support the work of others in showing that young women start out on a par with young men in the science arena but lose ground over time. The goal here...

    (pp. 191-206)
    (pp. 207-216)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 217-220)