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Systemizing and the Gender Gap: Examining Academic Achievement and Perseverance in STEM


"For years, a popular explanation for women choosing to abandon studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has been their lack of aptitude. This study challenged that notion by integrating theories of cognitive style, academic emotion, self-efficacy, and motivation to explain students' academic achievement and perseverance in STEM when transitioning to college. A sample of 1597 high school and junior college students participated. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were first conducted to validate a reduced version of the cognitive style questionnaire. Structural equation modeling revealed that the cognitive style known as systemizing indirectly predicted STEM achievement and persistence by way of intrinsic motivation, learning anxiety, and self-efficacy, providing a new perspective for re-examining the gender gap in STEM."