Last updated July 23, 2018 at 10:03 am
Don’t underestimate yourself, especially if you’re a woman studying science.
A person’s perception of their intelligence has a very different outcome between women and men in a university biology classroom.
A study has found that men see themselves as smarter, even when compared to woman with equal grades in a university biology class setting. Gender was found to impact a student’s perception of their own intelligence, particularly when they compared themselves to others.
Out of a 250-person biology course at Arizona State University, students were asked about their intelligence, comparing themselves to everyone in the class and those they worked most closely with.
Overall, women were far more likely to underestimate their own intelligence than men. They also found that native English speakers had a higher academic self-perception than non-native English speakers.
When comparing a female and a male student, both with a GPA of 3.3, the male student is likely to say he is smarter than 66 percent of the class, and the female student is likely to say she is smarter than only 54 percent of the class.
When looking closer at how students compared themselves with those they work closer with, the same trend was seen. Male students are 3.2 times more likely than females to say they are smarter than the person they are working with, regardless of gender.
This is the first study to examine undergraduate student perceptions about their own intelligence compared to other people in the class.
Ensuring the future of women in STEM
These findings could have an impact on education and teaching approaches in colleges and universities. With the “transition from lecturing to active learning, students interact more with each other and are likely comparing themselves more to other students in the class,” state the authors in their paper.
“This study shows that women are disproportionately thinking that they are not as good as other students, so this a worrisome result of increased interactions among students,” says Sara Brownell, senior author of the study.
These self-perceptions are important for understanding the disparity between the number of women who choose to study science and retaining women in science, especially if it is influenced by women who don’t believe they are smart enough when they absolutely are.
The research is published in Advances in Physiology Education.