Thursday, June 24, 2010

who is the scientist?

Maybe I was too ready to assign the fault of gender idiocy to males based on age. I blogged here on June 2: "...And the few roles they write for women are extremely crappy - just wife or daughter or hot chick roles. Because in their minds, males are the default gender, so why would you write a play with, for example, a female doctor? Males can be doctors so there's no point in having a female doctor unless there's a reason for the doctor to be female, like she's also a hot chick..."

But it turns out that male is the default gender to 21st century kids too, when it comes to imagining what a scientist looks like... although girls, at least, are influenced by reality, while boys are not. As it says at Restructure:
* 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.
Of course people like Steven Pinker would have you believe that everything is a nice level playing field now, and discrimination against women in the sciences does not exist - and virtually every problem women have in science careers is due to innate mental inferiority. Or as Pinker's evolutionary psychology disciple Lawrence Summers put it, in his infamous speech to a group of women scientists:
in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic (lesser female) aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination.