Science is a subject available to both genders and yet women, if not directly discouraged, haven’t been encouraged to pursue it as a field of study. Girls are steered toward languages and the liberal arts, implying that maths and sciences are better left to the boys. It’s a stereotype that’s been torn down, and yet the gender imbalance is still apparent in the field of scientific research and academics.
We see it in the make-up of the participant rosters for the Sandpits we run. These events host between 18 and 35 people, depending on the type of question and the funding available. Usually the number of female participants – women who’ve applied to and have been accepted – hovers around 25% of the group. When the question has easily evident social-science impact like the future of the digital economy, the number is higher. But in a typical Sandpit, the ratio of men to women is 3:1. It’s even been as low as 4:1.