33 SES 02 A, Gendered Socialization for Science and ICT
The gender gap with male dominance in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) remains persistent across most OECD countries. The persistence of horizontal gender segregation in educational and occupational fields contributes decisively to the spread of gender-stereotypic beliefs about a natural fit of women in careers in more expressive and human-centered fields and men in technical and math-intensive fields (Charles & Bradley, 2009). The Social Role Theory (Eagly & Wood, 2012) suggests that gender roles and their occupants are highly visible in everyday contexts and that gender stereotypes emerge in response to the observation of women and men in different social roles and in role-linked activities related to occupational choices (Koenig & Eagly, 2014). According to the Theory of Circumscription and Compromise the development of occupational aspirations is based on judgement of the degree of match between individual self-image and the image of an occupation. In this process, the sex type of an occupation is especially crucial for career choice. Judging whether an occupational sex type is right or wrong for oneself is embedded in various social expectations associated with the socio-culturally established gender roles that children and adolescents acquire in socialization contexts (Gottfredson, 2002, 2005). Thus, the effect of role models in the process of developing career-related interests and preferences already shows at pre-school age. Three- to five-year-old children begin to develop first ideas about the importance of work and gender-specific role distribution. These ideas become more concrete with advancing age and influence the development of occupational preferences (Gottfredson, 2005).
The gender stereotypes in math and science have been analyzed and confirmed via a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods (review in Makarova & Herzog, 2015). Furthermore, research among secondary school students in Switzerland has shown that among the three school subjects analyzed, math and physics were either negatively associated with female or positively associated with male gender (Makarova & Herzog, 2015). The results of another study have shown that in science textbooks for mathematics, physics and chemistry for upper secondary education the male protagonists are numerically overrepresented in text and pictures compared to female protagonists. Even groups of people depicted in the text or pictures predominantly consist of men (Makarova, Aeschlimann & Herzog, 2016). Regarding the function of role models, it is worrying that women as scientists are almost completely absent in the analyzed textbooks, and that the pictures show adult men at work, while girls and young women are portrayed in leisure time and in the household. Furthermore, the generic masculine is predominantly used for occupational titles (“Wissenschaftler”/scientist, “Physiker”/physicist). Women are not addressed. Moreover, quotes used in the physics textbook are all from male authors. Herzog et al. (2019) show that these results also apply to current and frequently used science textbooks in upper secondary education, which continue reproducing stereotypical representations and gender inequality.
Based on the results of a preliminary study on gender portrayal in science textbooks (Wenger, Lindner & Makarova, 2019) the follow up study aims to analyze how female and male students perceive and interpret the gender stereotypical portrayal of female scientists in textbooks, which are used in science classes in German speaking European countries. The focus lies on the importance of role models in science textbooks. Therefore, the research questions are:
1. How do female and male students assess the representation of (female) role models in science textbooks?
2. What influence have role models in science textbooks on students’ identification with the subject, their occupational preferences and their career choice?
Finally, (3) the study addresses differences in relevance of display of female scientist as role models from female and male students’ perspectives.
Our research is based on a qualitative study in upper secondary schools in Switzerland. Over a period of 4 months interviews were conducted with students from classes where teachers use analyzed science textbooks. The interviewed students were between 15 and 18 years old. In the form of group interviews, 20 interviews with female students and 20 interviews with male students took place (the interviewed groups consisted of 4 girls and 4 boys per class). A total of 161 participants were interviewed, 49% were female and 51% male. The average interview duration was about 35 minutes. Interviews were analyzed applying content analysis. Deductive predetermined categories were applied to analyze the data. Previously elaborated criteria for gender equal teaching materials in science teaching were consulted for the deductively formed categories (Makarova & Wenger, 2019). The following categories were significant: • Gender-inclusive language in teaching material (form of address; speech forms; importance of gender-inclusive language), • Protagonists in general (presence/ absence of persons in teaching material; representation of persons in the text and in the picture; importance of a balanced representation), • Representation of gender roles in teaching material (representation of women and men; importance of an egalitarian representation), • Professional role models (women in science; men in science; lack of role models in science), • Effects of depictions in the teaching material on students (motivation; interest; identification; career and study choice), • Addition of female role models (impact on the STEM career/ study choice) and • Positioning to STEM subjects (interest in STEM subjects at school; interest in STEM studies/ STEM professions after school). The recorded interviews were transcribed using the transcription program F4. The transcripts were then integrated, coded and analyzed using MAXQDA for computer-aided qualitative content analysis.
The ongoing data analysis aims to analyze female and male students’ perception and interpretation of the portrayal of scientists in science textbooks as well as the impact of display of professional role models on secondary students’ science career aspirations. The preliminary results have shown that the interviewed participants recognize that female scientists are numerically underrepresented and not mentioned despite of their achievements. Female role models are considered as important by the female students, but they are also often unknown by both, female and male students. As one of the few known women in science Marie Curie is mentioned a lot, but most known role models in science are male, such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton or Stephen Hawking. An interesting finding is that female students state that it is important to have a display of contemporary scientists as role models. As for the effects, the majority of the female students recognize the effect of gender representation in science textbooks. They name multiple effects on motivation, identification, self-esteem, and career aspirations as female role models can encourage girls to pursue a science career. Since this is an ongoing analysis further results will follow, also with regard to the perspective of male students. However, the need for action to revise teaching materials by integrating more female role models has already become clear.
Charles, M. & Bradley, K. (2009). Indulging our gendered selves? Sex segregation by field of study in 44 countries. AM. J. Sociol. 114, 924-976. Eagly, A. H. & Wood, W. (2012). Social role theory, in Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology, eds P. van Lange, A. Kruglanski, and E. T. Higgins, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 458-476. Gottfredson, L. S. (2002). Gottfredson`s theory of circumscription, compromise, and self-creation. Career Choice Dev. 4, 85-148. Gottfredson, L. S. (2005). Applying Gottfredson`s theory of circumscription and compromise in career guidance and counseling, in Career Development and Counselling: Putting Theory and Research to Work, eds S. D. Brown, and R. W. Lent, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 71-100. Herzog, W., Makarova, E. & Fanger, F. (2019). Darstellung der Geschlechter in einem Physik- und in einem Chemieschulbuch für die Sekundarstufe II, in Gendersensible Berufsorientierung und Berufswahl: Beiträge aus der Forschung und Praxis, ed. E. Makarova, Bern: Hep-Verlag. Koenig, A. M. & Eagly, A. H. (2014). Evidence for the social role theory of stereotype content: observations of groups’ roles shape stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 371-392. Makarova, E. & Herzog, W. (2015). Trapped in the gender stereotype? The image of science among secondary school students and teachers. Equality, Diversion and Inclusion: An International Journal. 34, 106-123. Makarova, E., Aeschlimann, B. & Herzog, W. (2016). Wenn Frauen in MINT-Studiengängen fehlen: mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlicher Unterricht und die Studienwahl junger Frauen, in Berufsorientierung und Geschlecht, ed. H. Faulstich-Wieland, Weinheim: Juventa-Verlag, 39-57. Makarova, E. & Wenger, N. (2019). Gendergerechtigkeit in Lehrmitteln für naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht: Handreichung für Lehrpersonen. Basel: Universität Basel, Institut für Bildungswissenschaften. Wenger, N., Lindner, J. & Makarova, E.; unter Mitarbeit von Bojt, E., von Freymann, B. & Graf, Ch. (2019). Geschlechtergerechtigkeit von Lehrmitteln auf der Sekundarstufe II. Forschungsbericht: Ergebnisse der Analyse des Lehrmittels Physik für Mittelschulen. Basel: Universität Basel, Institut für Bildungswissenschaften.
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