Zaragoza Domènech Carme, Fernández-Novell Josep M. | Drawing Scientists: Gender of the Scientists Depicted by Young People

Abstract

The aim of this work is to present a fresh view of science gender. In this way, it is important to know how would children and teenagers describe a scientist, male or female and why? We employed the pictorial representation of the scientist to answer this question. We could show the results to understand how science, scientists and scientist life are perceived by Spanish science primary school students and, also Spanish science secondary school students and how these pictures can explain the different effects on the motivation to be a scientist.
More than one thousand pictures of scientists from primary school students (ages 10 to 11 years) were examined and those figures showed us a clear balance between female scientists and male scientists. In this context 44% of children had drawing females, 45% of children had drawing males scientists and, finally, an additional 11% were human pictures but with an unknown gender. In addition, more than eight hundred pictures of scientists from secondary school students (ages 12 to16 years) were also examined and, in contrast, more than 80% drew male scientists.  It is known that these children and teenager pictures are influenced by school (textbooks, teacher behavior and science teacher gender) by comic books, by television or films.
The gender of the scientists depicted is a significant theme that needs to be considered. Why is there such a marked difference between the results from students over only few years of age difference? What causes students to think of the science is primarily male work rather than remaining unbiased?.
The answer is not simple and in order to understand this bias it is necessary to put together drawings and students’ feelings toward the study of science and their reasons for being able to be a scientists or being unable to be it, especially in young women.
After studying young science student’s pictures we could partially explain why the science gendered exclusion is tolerable and why access of woman into scientific teams and institutions is making smaller, two questions that did not were asked by children and teenagers.