Kids' Responses To The 'Draw A Scientist' Challenge Are Changing For The Better

“Children are drawing more female scientists than ever before."

Kids' Responses To The 'Draw A Scientist' Challenge Are Changing For The Better

More than ever before, children imagine scientists to be female, as evidenced by a study in which children are asked to draw "a scientist" — no gender specified. Over the past three decades, the number of children participating in a Draw-A-Scientist study that drew a female scientist has increased by more than a quarter, according to a new study published in Child Development last week.

Still, there's a lot of work to be done to fully illustrate equal opportunity for scientists and professions in the STEM field overall.

"Children are drawing more female scientists than ever before, but they're still drawing more male scientists as they get older,"  David Miller, the study's lead author, told Mashable.

Only 28 children – all girls – drew a female scientist between the years of 1966 to 1977 when 4,800 students across the country participated in the study led by researcher David Wade Chambers. Miller analyzed the results of 78 U.S. Draw-A-Scientist studies conducted between 1966 and 2016, collectively including more than 20,000 children from kindergarten to 12th grade and found that while there was an increase in younger children – between five and six – drawing female scientists, that number decreased as the children's age increased.

"I think it reflects the environment children are in," Mill said of the findings, per Mashable. "Women do indeed remain a minority in several science fields. If you look at children's media, there's still more male than female scientists depicted. If children are exposed in this environment, we shouldn't expect them to draw equal numbers of female and male scientists."  

But as they see examples of more women in STEM — including fictional female scientists, like Shuri from Black Panther — the perception will continue to change. This begins in the home and at school with parents and educators diversifying who they present to children as historical references of scientists.

(H/T: Mashable)

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