Date of Project
College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Christy Wolfe
Dr. Ann Jirkovsky
Women are joining STEM fields at higher rates, yet the stereotype of math and science being for men is still reinforced to children by their parents, their teachers, and especially what they watch. Children tend to trust characters of their same gender and are more likely to retain the lessons from the characters they trust. Since most of the shows children watch tend to display gender stereotypes, especially the stereotype of men being good in STEM, children are likely to enforce these stereotypes. The increase of women in STEM has increased interest in STEM for girls, but boys still tend to hold more rigid gender bias. In this study, we were interested in the potential association between children’s preference for masculine or feminine television shows and their perceptions of women in STEM. We recruited 22 children and their parents and gave them a packet with questions measuring stereotype awareness, stereotype flexibility, and stereotype endorsement; questions measuring television preference; and a worksheet to draw a scientist and a teacher. The results showed a clear association between the type of television preferred (masculine or feminine) and the gender of the scientist in their drawings (p < .05). A comparison of the equitable, male-bias, and female-bias scores for the stereotype measures also demonstrated a significant difference between television preference groups (p < .05); specifically, those children who preferred feminine television scored higher on female-bias for stereotype endorsement (women “should be good” at STEM) than those who preferred masculine television. This study overall supports the correlation between television preference and STEM as a gendered field.
Berck, Lauren, "Young Children’s TV Show Preferences and Perceptions of Women in STEM" (2022). Undergraduate Theses. 86.