Does Minority Status Drive Women out of Male-Dominated Fields? is a study that just came out.

It suggests that women in a college course who are assigned to small groups where there are fewer women than men are more likely to drop the course.

Just this week a young woman in one of my high school classes asked me if she could be put in small groups that only had young women, and that’s happened a handful of times during my teaching career. Of course, in this case and in all prior cases I immediately inquired if there had been any harassment or inappropriate behavior by young men that prompted the request.

In this case, as in all previous cases, I was told no, they just felt more comfortable working in groups composed of women.

At the beginning of every year, I have my IB Theory of Knowledge students read an article from Scientific American, How Diversity Makes Us Smarter. It’s part of an on-going effort on my part to encourage students to freely choose to work in small groups that are diverse by gender, race and culture.

Though a single study isn’t making me rethink that strategy, it is raising questions in my mind. I do a lot of small group work and, come to think of it, it does seem that when students can choose, there tend to be more all-women groups than all-men ones.

I certainly don’t want young women to feel uncomfortable in small groups and, apart from those handful of times, the issue hasn’t come up.

I’m adding this post to Best Posts On The Basics Of Small Groups In The Classroom.

What are your thoughts?