Draw A Scientist: Man or Woman?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

One strange feature of all these debates is the overwhelming preponderance of men. That is a problem, in my view. We do need to find ways to do better. Among many other things, we need to be kind to woman than join us here. Please keep that in mind.

This does reflect a large problem in science, which has been largely dominated by men. Though things are improving. See this interesting article in Science.

In the 1960s and 1970s, less than 1% of students depicted scientists as female. But the percentage of women in the “draw a scientist” sketches—like the one pictured, drawn by a third grade girl in San Antonio, Texas—has increased over time, reaching an estimated 34% by 2016. And the numbers are even more stark when looking at drawings penned by girls: About 1% drew women in the first 2 decades—but in the past decade more than half have drawn women, researchers report in Child Development.

Interesting study here. It seems that there has been a steady trend for students to imagine scientists as women. The trend is strongest among girls, hopefully suggesting they are imagining that they could be scientists too. That is good news. That might be part of what makes things different in the next generation.


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Because men are more likely to be jerks?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

No kidding. We need to fix this. I hope that more woman will join us and begin to contribute too. We should be mindful of this.

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Speaking as a man . . . yep, pretty much.

As @swamidass mentions, this has been a problem in science at large, but trends are going in the right direction. I have been very encouraged after seeing a 50/50 split in undergrad summer research internships I have been involved with in the past. As much as we may joke about millennials, I think they are going to make for an amazing group of scientists in the near future.