Series: Hear from the Experts

Working in STEM Fields Is Possible through Hard Work, Not Genetics

This article from The Atlantic argues against the idea that some people are genetically inclined to be bad at math. While it stands to reason that not everyone will end up working in STEM fields, the authors of the article contend that the average student has the capability to succeed in math throughout high school.

To underline their point, the authors cite evidence from several studies surrounding this idea. Many conclude that math failure is often something of a self-fulfilled prophecy. Students who do not believe they have natural math skills give up more easily when reaching a roadblock, while those who are more confident about their math ability are more likely to try to work through the same problem.

Research also points towards the troubling idea that this type of thinking could be a cause for the gender gap in STEM fields, as cultural bias makes young women even more likely to doubt their math abilities.