Science & Hi-Tech

Girls are put off careers in science from as young as FIVE ‘because books depict academics as men’

Girls are put off careers in science from as young as five because the books they read depict almost all academics as men, research suggests (stock image)
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Girls are put off careers in science from as young as five because the books they read depict almost all academics as men, new research suggests.

A study of children’s science books available in English libraries found that doctors and astronauts were depicted as men three times more often than women.

In physics books, almost 90 per cent of the people pictured were men, and in the rare instances a woman would feature, she was often depicted as a ‘sidekick’.

A failure to depict inspiring female role models is driving young women away from careers in science, researchers behind the study claim.

Previous research suggests children as young as eight years old form a belief that men are inherently better at some academic subjects.

Girls are put off careers in science from as young as five because the books they read depict almost all academics as men, research suggests (stock image)

The study, from the University of Cumbria, analysed 26 children’s science books available in two public libraries in northern England.

It found books targeted at older children tended to depict fewer female scientists than those aimed at younger readers.

Researchers highlighted that even when women were shown to be academic, their roles in the books were different from those assigned to men.

Male astronauts were typically featured going on spacewalks or performing scientific tests, while women were shown gazing out of windows at the stars.

One picture picked out by the scientists depicted a female astronaut in space accompanied by the caption: ‘In zero G every day is a bad hair day!’

The researchers said the pictures put across the idea that careers in science, technology and mathematics are unrewarding for women.

A study of children's science books available in English libraries found that doctors and astronauts were depicted as men three times more than they were women. In physics books, nearly 90 per cent of the people pictured were men (stock image)

A study of children’s science books available in English libraries found that doctors and astronauts were depicted as men three times more than they were women. In physics books, nearly 90 per cent of the people pictured were men (stock image)

‘Schools, libraries, bookshop and parents need to demand change,’ Sue Wilbraham, who co-authored the new research, told the Times.

‘It’s not enough to have women scientists in the pictures: they must be shown as technically able.

‘Women need to be present in children’s science books to demonstrate that all science subjects are fulfilling for girls.’

DO MEN THINK THEY’RE SMARTER THAN WOMEN?

A new study has revealed men think they are smarter than their peers, even when compared to women whose grades prove they are just as smart.

Researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) made the discovery after asking college students enrolled in a 250 strong biology course about their intelligence.

Specifically, students were asked to estimate their own intelligence compared to everyone in the class as well as the student they worked most closely with.

Experts were surprised to find that women were far more likely to underestimate their own intelligence than men.

When comparing a female and a male student, both with a grade point average of 3.3, the male student is likely to say he is smarter than 66 percent of the class.

A female student is likely to say she is smarter than only 54 percent of the class.

In addition, when asked whether they are smarter than the person they worked most with in class, the pattern continued.

Male students are 3.2 times more likely than females to say they are smarter than the person they are working with, regardless of whether their class partners are men or women.

The number of women in careers involving skills in science or mathematics has been a controversial topic for decades.

Around 20 per net of A-Level physics students are women – a proportion that has not changed in the last 25 years.

Just 15 per cent of engineering undergraduates are women, and some experts blame the imagery shown to us when we are children.


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