The Science Learning Centre in London asked 11,000 pupils for their views on science and scientists. Around 70% of the 11-15 year olds questioned said they did not picture scientists as “normal young and attractive men and women”. The research examined why numbers of science exam entries are declining. They found around 80% of pupils thought scientists did “very important work” and 70% thought they worked “creatively and imaginatively”. Only 40% said they agreed that scientists did “boring and repetitive work”.
Over three quarters of the respondents thought scientists were “really brainy people”. The research is being undertaken as part of Einstein Year. Among those who said they would not like to be scientists, reasons included: “Because you would constantly be depressed and tired and not have time for family”, and “because they all wear big glasses and white coats and I am female”.
We obviously need to start posting more pictures of ourselves in our cool black leather lab coats. This white-lab-coat stereotype cannot stand.
The pictures are great, but the written descriptions are even better. Here is Beth, before::
The scientist has big square-shaped glasses and a big geeky nose with brown hair and blue eyes. I see a scientist working in a lab with a white lab coat . . . holding a beaker filled with solutions only he knows. Scientists are very interesting people who can figure out things we don’t even know exist.
And after visiting:
My picture of a scientist is completely different than what it used to be! The scientist I saw doesn’t wear a lab coat. . . . The scientists used good vocabulary and spoke like they knew what they were talking about.
Note “spoke like,” not simply “knew what they were talking about.” That Beth is a smart cookie.