A ten-year-old study of impressions that middle-school kids have of scientists is drawing fresh attention, after Geek Feminism Blog highlighted it.
In the study, 31 seventh graders were asked to describe and sketch a typical scientist. Then they visited Fermilab, the applied-physics facility in Batavia, Illinois. After a tour and meetings with actual lab employees, they repeated the exercise.
The study testifies to the power of the geek trope: The "before" sketches have a definite mad-scientist vibe, in contrast to the "after" pictures.
A seventh-grade girl's "before" and "after" sketches
Another striking detail:
--Among girls (14 in total), 36 percent portrayed a female scientist in the "before" drawing, and 57 percent portrayed a female scientist in the "after" drawing.
--Among boys (17 in total), 100 percent portrayed a male scientist in the "before" drawing, and 100 percent portrayed a male scientist in the "after" drawing.
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