30 July 2010

Google reveals our stereotypes, plus, sexy scientists in their skivvies!

Science textbooks have been trying hard to include photographs of multi-gendered, multi-cultural scientists. But has our image of the "scientist" really been affected by these attempts at equity? Today I Google-imaged "scientist" just to see what I would get.
There are a couple of things I noticed immediately about these results.
  1. Our collective image of the "scientist" wears a lab coat.  Only one of the 33 pictures on the first page of results is not wearing one.
  2. The color scheme of our collective "scientist" is apparently blue, green and white.
  3. Of 33 pictures on the first page of results, 7 of them include women. 2 of those pictures with women come from a the same web comic, and are actually jokes, leaving five serious depictions of women in science.
  4. In the 33 pictures of scientists in the first page of results, there are 21 pairs of glasses.
  5. In 22 of the pictures on the first page of results a scientist is working with or displaying some kind of mysterious liquid in a test tube or beaker.  In fourteen of these 22, the liquid is bubbling or smoking ominously.
  6. 3 of the 33 pictures on the first page of results depict a scientist who looks like they might possibly not be white.  It's hard to tell.  Two of those three questionably ethnic scientists are also women.
  7. At least nine of the scientists appear to be "mad."
  8. In the first two pages of results, there are only four real photographs of women "doing science."  One of those four is a model in a lab coat and little else, shown below.
Did anybody else notice something interesting about our emergent image of the scientist?  Please, comment!

4 comments:

Craig Faustus Buck said...

Have no fear! According to The Atlantic women are finally taking over the world. Take a look at the cover story of the Jul/Aug edition entitled The End of Men

Anonymous said...

Maybe we, as women , were better off when scientists were depicted as being mad and men! Particularly when lab coats that look like paper bags cost in excess of $200.00. You would have to be mad to spend that for a limp white coat.

As women, we have our work cut out for us, to interest, support, and advocate for women in science. Only if they think that there is a place for them in the scientific world will they risk the time and preparation required to excel. If you don't think you will be welcomed and valued, you will head elsewhere. It wasn't until my superintendent passed the word that administrative jobs would not just be going to PE coaches that were male that I put my hat in the ring for my first job as a vice principal. When I thought that the playing field was rigged, I never bothered.

Karina said...

What happens when you search for google images of social scientists?

AliviaAnne said...

i'm too tired to write an actual comment right now but: feminist gold.