Researchers: Universities Should Make STEM Classes Easier for Women

a college class

A new paper published by a team of researchers makes the case that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses should be made easier for female students.

According to a report by Campus Reform, a research paper published in December argues that universities should make STEM courses easier for women because female students, on the whole, perform worse than male students.

The paper, which is entitled “Equilibrium Grade Inflation With Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors, was written by Naval Postgraduate School professor Thomas Ahn, Duke University Professor Peter Arcidiacono, Duke University research economist Amy Hopson, and James R. Thomas of the Federal Trade Commission.

Although the paper claims that women receive higher grades in science and math courses than men, there are still significantly more men than women majoring in these subjects. Based on research that suggests that female students put a greater emphasis on high grades than male students, the paper argues that making STEM courses easier will attract more female students.

The abstract for the research paper claims that “harsher grading policies” in science and math courses “disproportionately affect women.”

Substantial earnings differences exist across majors with the majors that pay well also having lower grades and higher workloads. We show that the harsher grading policies in STEM courses disproportionately affect women. To show this, we estimate a model of student demand courses and optimal effort choices of students conditional on the chosen courses. Instructor grading policies are treated as equilibrium objects that in part depend on student demand for courses. Restrictions on grading policies that equalize average grades across classes helps to close the STEM gender gap as well as increasing overall enrollment in STEM classes.

The researchers argue that gender inequities in the STEM majored could be lessened by artificially inflating grades for all STEM students. The study claims that the STEM fields would see an 11.3 percent increase in female students if STEM classes were curved to a B letter grade.

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