Research News

Infographic: Gender-Science Stereotypes in 66 Nations

Researchers identify link between implicit stereotypes and women's representation in science

gender science

Click on the image above to see a larger version of the infographic.

Over the past 40 years, the number of women taking science courses and becoming scientists has increased dramatically in some countries but not in others. In the Journal of Educational Psychology, Northwestern graduate student David Miller, IPR psychologist Alice Eagly, and Marcia Linn of the University of California, Berkeley, examine why this is the case.

Specifically, they assess whether the number of women who participate in science varies according to stereotypes that typically associate science with men. Through the Project Implicit website, they asked nearly 350,000 participants in 66 nations to take an Implicit Association Test to measure how quickly respondents associated scientific words such as “math” and “physics” with male words such as “man” and “boy” versus female words such as “woman” and “girl.” The results were used to determine individuals’ implicit, or unconscious, gender-science stereotypes, along with national averages. The researchers then matched these national gender-science stereotype measures to the level of female participation in science in each country.

The results reveal an important trend: In countries where women account for a larger percentage of science majors, there are weaker implicit gender-science stereotypes, as well as weaker explicit, or overtly expressed, associations between males and science. The findings do offer a silver lining, however, by suggesting that as more women study science in these countries, gender-science stereotypes could decrease.

Alice Eagly is James Padilla Chair of Arts and Sciences, professor of psychology, and an IPR fellow. David Miller is a graduate student in Northwestern’s psychology department.