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What Does a Scientist Look Like?

Role models matter, particularly for women. Even more so for women of color, first generation immigrants, people from low SES backgrounds and for the disabled. When the draw-a-scientist study (DAST) study was first conducted over 50 years ago with elementary school students in the US and Canada, only twenty-eight of the 5,000 students (0.06%) drew a female scientist.

When it was repeated with a similar cohort of American students in 2018, 24% of the students drew a female scientist. It is definitely progress but, we have a longer way to go. The results demonstrate how entrenched restrictive gender stereotypes still are for women and, more so, how vital it is to raise the visibility of female role models for girls and women, particularly those succeeding in fields long dominated by men.

Research shows role models have a benefit for women because they combat gender biases, institutional barriers and negative stereotypes.

Research shows that role models have three core benefits for women:

  • role models represent and expand what is possible

  • role models inspire women to be more ambitious and aim higher

  • role models demonstrate the mindsets and behaviors of how to rise

It is important to be intentional with the information we present our kids. There is a lot of negative information out there that is easily accessible and we should outshine that negativity by giving our kids positive information.

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