Politics & society, Research, Science & environment

U.S. bringing up the middle on gender-science stereotyping

By Thomas Levy


Gender stereotyping in which men are more strongly associated with science than women has been found in some unlikely countries, with the Netherlands leading the list and the United States in the middle at 38th, according to research that surveyed more than 350,000 people in 66 countries through a website called Project Implicit.

Berkeley professor Marcia Linn, at the School of Education, coauthored  a study that examined gender-science stereotyping across 66 countries.

Marcia Linn, a professor in UC Berkeley’s School of Education, co-authored a study that examined gender-science stereotyping across 66 countries.

Researchers from UC Berkeley and Northwestern University asked those surveyed how much they associated science with men or women and how quickly they associated words like “math” or “physics” with words like “woman” or “man.” But they were not asked whether men or women were more competent at science.

Published in the Oct. 20, 2014, issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, the study was recently covered by Futurity.org. In the article, Marcia Linn, a study co-author and Berkeley professor of cognition and development at the Graduate School of Education, says involving students in analyzing women scientists through science instruction could help reduce such gender-science stereotypes.

“Educators should present examples beyond Marie Curie to help shape students’ beliefs about who pursues science,” said Linn. “Students reconsider who pursues science when they can compare examples of female scientists and reflect on their beliefs.”

On an interactive online chart, study results showed that only 26.6 percent of U.S. scientists are women, the 10th worst showing below No. 1 Japan with 12 percent women scientists. Latvia, at No. 58, had the highest proportion, with 51.8 percent women scientists.

But change is on the way. The survey says 43 percent of U.S. college science majors are women, putting the United States at No. 39 in that category, a better showing than  No. 1 Netherlands, where only 24.2 percent are women. Iran had the best showing in this category, at No. 60, with women representing 67.3 percent of college science majors.

The study can be read here: Women’s Representation in Science Predicts National Gender-Science Stereotypes: Evidence From 66 Nations