This is a modified version of a post that was originally published at Restructure!
|The scientist has big square-shaped glasses and a big geeky nose with brown hair and blue eyes. I see a scientist working in a lab with a white lab coat . . . holding a beaker filled with solutions only he knows. Scientists are very interesting people who can figure out things we don’t even know exist.||My picture of a scientist is completely different than what it used to be! The scientist I saw doesnÂ¹t wear a lab coat. . . . The scientists used good vocabulary and spoke like they knew what they were talking about.|
|I think of a scientist as very dedicated to his work. He is kind of crazy, talking always quickly. He constantly is getting new ideas. He is always asking questions and can be annoying. He listens to others’ ideas and questions them.||I know scientists are just normal people with a not so normal job. . . . Scientists lead a normal life outside of being a scientist. They are interested in dancing, pottery, jogging and even racquetball. Being a scientist is just another job which can be much more exciting.|
|A scientist is hard working, studious, detail-oriented, observant, intelligent, exacting, and patient.||Most people think of a scientist as a person who is nerdy, studious, scholarly, and a person who is devoted to her job and doesnÂ¹t have much of a personality or isnÂ¹t very interesting. This is a stereotype and today just proves that scientists have lives, interests, hobbies, families and friends. I find that scientists are very, very interesting|
Here are some interesting gender statistics about these drawings (if I correctly perceive the children’s genders and the scientists’ genders in the children’s drawings):
- Among girls (14 in total), 36% portrayed a female scientist in the “before” drawing, and 57% portrayed a female scientist in the “after” drawing.
- Among boys (17 in total), 100% portrayed a male scientist in the “before” drawing, and 100% portrayed a male scientist in the “after” drawing.
It looks like a visit to Fermilab has no impact on boys’ gender stereotypes about scientists, but it has a strong impact on challenging girls’ gender stereotypes about scientists. For girls, there was a 58% increase in female scientist representation in their drawings; for boys, there was a 0% increase in female scientist representation in their drawings.
If boys grow up to be men, and empirical evidence has no effect on males’ gender stereotypes about scientists, how do we challenge males’ association of science with maleness?
In Scientific Stereotype, David Bradley writes about a British-Australian study on childrenâ€™s views of scientists:
Worryingly, children of Asian and African-Caribbean descent generally held the same opinion as their white peers. Most childrenâ€™s sketches of scientists endowed them with a white, male face and the usual eccentric hair. Boys, Jarvis says, never drew women, and girls did so only very occasionally. While there may well be a minority of scientists who fit the category, it indicates a very narrow view of scientists, one that is so very often reinforced through TV programs and cartoons, comic books, and comments from nonscientist parents and other adults. We then wonder why so many girls and non-white children find it very difficult to envision themselves as future scientists.