Catherine Rampell has some advice for female college students that sounds a little odd at first: "Stop trying to be a straight-A students," she writes in the Washington Post. The reason is twofold: Science professors tend to give lower grades than humanities professors, and women are more likely than men to drop a particular subject if they don't get an A. Combine those two factors—and Rampell cites research to support both—and the upshot is that too few women are graduating with majors in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math.
"I fear that women are dropping out of fields such as math and computer science not because they’ve discovered passions elsewhere but because they fear delivering imperfection in the 'hard' fields that they (and potential employers) genuinely love," writes Rampell. Colleges can help by acknowledging and addressing the problem, but women have to take responsibility, too, by ditching their obsession with grades. "If women want to compete with the big boys, in the disciplines and professions where men continue to dominate, we need to overcome our B-phobia," writes Rampell. "Rinse yourselves of the intoxicating waters of Lake Wobegon, ladies, and embrace meaningful mediocrity." Click for her full column.