Close your eyes and visualize a scientist. What do you see? Do you picture a male? A female? Is your scientist in a lab coat and surrounded by chemicals and fancy equipment? Perhaps your scientist is in waders or measuring a tree. Our perspective on who or what makes a scientist may vary based on our experiences, our background, or perhaps our culture. What is important however, is that we realize that science, in order to be at it’s best, must be inclusive. We must have scientists from a variety of backgrounds because our individual life experiences shape our perspective and unique perspectives are what lead to breakthroughs.
Just this morning, the ADVANCE team found an article in Science magazine referencing an article about how children perceive scientists. In the article, a group of scholars analyzed 5 decades of “draw-a-scientist” studies conducted on school aged children. They found that students depict scientists as female 34% of the time as of 2016, up from 1% in the 1960s and 1970s. A breakdown by gender found that female students are now depicting female scientists nearly 50% of the time, again, up from 1% in the 1960s and 1970s. These numbers are encouraging but still highlight the need for increased education on what makes a scientist so that our children realize anyone can be a scientist.
Want to learn more?
Visit this link for the article from Science.
For a more in-depth look, the study from Child Development can be found here.