How Gender Biased are our Children in the Drawing of a Scientist?

Chen-Wilson, C. (Speaker), Maunder, R. (Speaker)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Chambers’ Draw-a-Scientist Test (DAST) has been widely used to investigative children’s stereotypical representation of a scientist. Based on research using Chambers’ DAST, a recent meta-analysis reports that American children’s gender biased view of a scientist has decreased in the past 5 decades. However, the tendency to associate male with scientists is still notable, especially in boys. This study aimed to explore the gender-science stereotypes in British primary school children.
272 (51.5% female) pupils in Years 4-6 from three different primary schools completed the Draw-a-Scientist Test. The drawing was coded to measure their stereotypical views of a scientist using Chambers’ DAST coding scheme.
British children in the present study showed comparatively lower DAST scores, suggesting a less gendered representation of a scientist. There was no age difference in the way the scientist was portrayed in their drawing across the three year groups. However, there was a significant gender difference in the children’s drawings. Boys in the current study predominately drew a male scientist (81.8%) who was also old (21%) whereas more girls drew a female scientist (55.1%) who was rarely shown as being old (6.6%). Using a more refined coding scheme also revealed subtle differences in how a scientist is represented in boys’ and girls’ drawing.
Chambers’ DAST coding scheme did not capture significant developmental differences in the way gendered associations of a scientist were represented in the children’s drawings. However, using a different coding scheme, interesting changes in the drawings were observed. There might be a need to further refine the coding scheme in future research. Moreover, the children in the current study mostly came from catchment areas with lower socioeconomic status. The relationship between the children’s gendered notions of a scientist and their value and aspiration of science as a subject and a potential career choice will be further explored.
Period20 Jun 2019
Event titleUniversity of Northampton Annual Research Conference
Event typeConference
LocationNorthampton, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionLocal