Title

Perceptions about Women in Science and Engineering History

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

6-10-2012

Abstract

This study investigated college students' perceptions about the contributions of women to the history of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (N = 1,147). Students were asked to write down as many famous or historically important scientists, inventors or engineers they could think of. After one minute, they were instructed to write down as many famous or historically important women scientists, inventors or engineers they could think of. For the first question, 95% of the responses referred to male scientists, inventors or engineers. For the second question, respondents named on average less than one woman (M=.86), and those named were more often from non-STEM fields (e.g., Rosa Parks) than actual scientists, inventors or engineers. Additionally, while respondents named a total of 279 distinct men, they named only 35 distinct women. Students in STEM fields could name significantly more male scientists, inventors or engineers than non-STEM students, but could not name significantly more women. The implications of these results are discussed, along with suggestions for educators on how to integrate the contributions of women in STEM into the classroom.

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