A study co-authored by a psychologist at the University of Cumbria has showed imagery used in children’s science books significantly features men rather than women. Researchers say this gives the impression that science is a subject for men, and that careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are unrewarding for women.
The work is by Dr Susan Wilbraham, senior lecturer in applied psychology at the University of Cumbria and Dr Elizabeth Caldwell, academic skills tutor within the school of art, design and architecture at the University of Huddersfield.
Writing in The Conversation the pair found that, overall, children’s science books pictured males three times more often than females, reinforcing the stereotype that science is a man’s pursuit. The under-representation of females only worsened as the target age of the book increased. The women were generally depicted as passive, lower status and unskilled – or their presence was not acknowledged at all.