Middle School Students' Trait Perceptions of Physicists and Biologists in Terms of Gender Stereotypes

Katherine Matta, Fordham University


The gender gap in science education has been a persistent topic of research and initiatives designed to narrow the gap have been successful within specific domains. However, although the gender gap is continuing to decrease, equity and equal representation are still lacking in some domains. Self-efficacy levels, interest levels, attitudes, and outside experiences influenced by societal norms, unconscious biases, and microaggressions continue to factor into the science education of girls. The purpose of the current research was to determine if perceptions of gender roles associated with physicists and biologists have been established in students before high school. A sample of eighth-grade students (N = 210) viewed a video about either physics or biology with an either all male or female cast of scientists explaining the specific field and rated them on their perceived level of intelligence and kindness. A two-way MANOVA was conducted to determine if scientist gender, scientist type, and/or the interaction would affect the perception of the students. The results were nonsignificant, indicating that within this sample there were no perceived gender differences of intelligence or kindness within biology and physics. The implications of this study suggest that other variables, such as student gender as well as previous interaction with scientists, may influence perceptions of students.

Subject Area

Middle School education|Educational psychology|Science education|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Matta, Katherine, "Middle School Students' Trait Perceptions of Physicists and Biologists in Terms of Gender Stereotypes" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13879896.