What picture comes to your mind when you think of a scientist? Well, when children are presented with this question and asked to draw a scientist at work, more often than not, they draw an elderly or middle-aged man wearing a lab coat and spectacles, mixing chemicals in fancy glassware. Alarmingly, the proportion of children who hold such a stereotypical mental image of a scientist seems quite large: 86.5% in a study done in 1998 and 78% in a more recent study! This narrow perception of scientists as male and science as a male-dominated endeavour limited to a particular kind of lab probably stems from a skewed representation of mostly white male scientists in school textbooks and other media. Its downside is clear that children from diverse backgrounds are then unable to imagine a future for themselves in science as they don’t see people similar to themselves doing science.
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