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Hairdressing in space: Depiction of gender in science books for children

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Science and Popular Culture
Issue number2
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)101-118
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/07/18
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Stereotypes in the media both reflect and perpetuate the notion that science is a masculine pursuit. The aim of the current study is to explore whether such stereotypes extend to imagery within children’s science books. In order to determine the extent of stereotypes in gender representation both quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted. Results demonstrated that overall females were under-represented in images across the books surveyed. Analyses of images of adults demonstrated under-representation of women in both physics and mathematics books, but images of children showed no significant difference between genders. Analyses of the target age of the children’s books revealed that books targeted at older children contained fewer images of adult females. Qualitative visual analyses revealed that books about space exploration trivialized women’s expertise, diminished their perceived technical competence, failed to acknowledge their contribution or presence, and represented them in a manner which suggested that they were passive, lower status, and superficial. Books about science that are currently available to children in libraries are not balanced in terms of their representation of gender. Imagery in children’s books of women actively participating in scientific occupations would help to demonstrate that careers in these areas are meaningful, fulfilling and achievable for women.