There is no single factor that alone can influence women’s and other social groups’ participation, achievement, and progression in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Current societal stereotypes about the type of person who is expected to succeed in STEM career pathways (generally middle-class white males) discourage many young people who do not meet these attributes (e.g., girls, students from low socioeconomic status or migrant families, as well as non-white students or students with disabilities) from entering and progressing in STEM fields.


To explore recent research on the role of personal (particularly with regards to intellectual abilities) and institutional-level factors in perpetuating or closing gender and diversity gaps in STEM participation, GenTIC is organizing the Seminar: “Individual and Institutional Barriers to Diversity in STEM”, given by Andrei Cimpian and Joseph Cimpian from New York University (NYU). We will focus our attention on two complementary approaches to explain the underrepresentation of women and other social groups in STEM.


When: Monday, November 20, 2023

Time: 17:00 h – 18:30 h

Venue: UOC’s Interdisciplinary R&I Hub (Building C, floor 0 – Rambla del Poblenou, 154 Barcelona)

Language: English

Registration: to participate, please register here.



17:00 h Welcome by Milagros Sáinz Ibáñez, director of the Gender and ICT research group at the IN3, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

17:05 h – 17:45 h The Changing and Uneven Landscape of Gender Gaps in STEM. Joseph Cimpian, Professor of Economics and Education Policy at New York University.

17:45 h – 18:25 h The Brilliance Barrier: Stereotypes about Brilliance Are an Obstacle to Diversity in Science and Beyond. Andrei Cimpian, Professor of Psychology at New York University.

18:25 h – 18:30 h Closing remarks


Speakers and abstracts

Andrei Cimpian

Andrei Cimpian earned a PhD in psychology from Stanford University in 2008 and is now Professor of Psychology at New York University. His research investigates motivation and academic achievement, with a particular focus on how educational outcomes are shaped by gender and racial/ethnic stereotypes. Dr. Cimpian’s research has been published in top journals such as Science, Science Advances, and Psychological Science, earning him the 2018 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology. Media outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The Economist have covered his work.

Abstract: The Brilliance Barrier: Stereotypes about Brilliance Are an Obstacle to Diversity in Science and Beyond

I propose that a field’s diversity is affected by what its members believe is required for success: Fields that value exceptional intellectual talent above all else may inadvertently obstruct the participation of women and (some) minority groups. The environment in these fields may be less welcoming to women and minority groups because of the cultural stereotypes that associate intellectual talent — brilliance, genius, etc. — with (white) men. This proposal is supported by observational and experimental data from a wide range of fields in the sciences and the humanities, as well as by developmental data that reveal how early these stereotypes take hold.


Joseph Cimpian

Joseph Cimpian, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and Education Policy at New York University. His research focuses on the use and development of novel and rigorous methods to study equity and policy, particularly concerning gender, data validity, and language policy. One line of his research examines individual and contextual factors related to gender gaps in STEM. Another line examines how invalid and mischievous survey responses skew estimates of majority-minority group disparities. Other research examines how education policies can be amended to provide access and supports to students learning English. His work has been funded by the Spencer Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Institute of Education Sciences. His research has been published in numerous journals, including Science, Pediatrics, Child Development, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and Educational Researcher, and has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and Brookings, among other outlets. At NYU, he teaches intermediate and advanced graduate courses on data analysis and causal inference. He is an immediate past Editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and is on the editorial boards of several other education and psychology journals.


Abstract: The Changing and Uneven Landscape of Gender Gaps in STEM

Gender disparities in STEM college majors have received substantial attention, with varying gender gaps across fields. While biology and mathematics approach a 1-to-1 male-to-female ratio, physics, engineering, and computer science (PECS) remain at a 4-to-1 gap. This talk explores potential causes and solutions for the PECS gender disparity. Surprisingly, low-achieving men outnumber women in PECS, which cannot be easily explained by student-level factors suggested in the literature. With this background, we turn to understanding the role of institutions in perpetuating or closing gender gaps. Analyzing a near census of 34 million U.S. Bachelor’s degrees awarded from 2002 to 2022 reveals considerable disparities across institutions. Schools serving lower-achieving students witness a widening PECS male-to-female ratio, reaching 7:1, while those with higher-achieving students narrow the gap to below 2:1. Despite accounting for key student-level factors including prior achievement and majoring intentions, institutional differences persist, emphasizing the need for interventions in institutions serving lower-achieving students, where men dominate PECS programs.


Funded by:

This event is organized in the framework of the following projects:

2021 SGR 01032 project, funded by the Department of Research and Universities of the Government of Catalonia.

HORIGESTEM. Grant PID2021-123049OB-I00 funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 / ERDF “A way of making Europe”.

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