Field of Science

Sex and the scientist

(Cross posted at my other blog.)

I am in the midst of writing an essay for Nature Chemistry - about why people are so curious about stereotypes of scientists, but seem less so about other fields. There is the DAST (draw a scientist test), but not as far as I can discover similar instruments to assess the images of other professions. Where are the DATTs (draw a teacher test) and DACTs (draw a chef test)? On the other end of the cultural spectrum there is the Big Bang Theory.

The earliest anthropological study I can find dates to the late 1950s and is by Margaret Mead (yes, that Margaret Mead) and Rhoda Metraux under the auspices of the AAAS. They analyzed thousands of essays, drawn from a set of 35,000 written by US high school students. The 1 page essays were written in response to one of three prompts. Prompt I read "When I think about a scientist, I think of..."

What took my breath away was Prompt II (italics are not mine, but as given in Mead's original paper - Science 126, 384-390 (1957)):
If you are a boy, complete the following statement in your own words.
If I were going to be a scientist, I should like to be the kind of scientist who...

If you are a girl, you may complete either the sentence above or this one:
If I were going to marry a scientist, I should like to marry the kind of scientist who..."
Math Man points out that I did both.

UPDATE: So there is a draw-a-teacher test (DATt) (H/T to Neil who commented on drawing God - another area that has been explored by educators and psychologists)

Images are from K.D. Finson, J.B. Beaver, B.L. Cramond, "Development and Field Test of a Checklist for the Draw-A-Scientist Test" School Science and Mathematics 95, p. 195 (1995).


  1. Not quite a profession, but in a Religious Education lesson at school once (probably when I was 13-15), we had to draw God!

    Or was it heaven? Either way, I have no idea what the vicar was trying to demonstrate.

    Interestingly, I bet lots of people would draw 'God' and 'a scientist' quite similarly - beard and white clothing...

  2. I bet they might, and I wonder what that says? authority = beard I imagine (and I think I have a reference to that in a book about icons...I'll have to look).

    As it turns out, there is a literature on children's images of God -- and teachers (despite my snarky comment to the contrary)! Thanks for pointing me in a useful direction...

  3. Professional sports players have been documented using drugs such as Viagra, with the thinking that the opening of their blood vessels will enrich their muscles. In turn, they believe that it will enhance their performance.

  4. I think that it's great that you are blogging about your researd, career and also women life. I thought you might be interested about a women scientist community who shares together about different topics.

    Have a nice day !


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