He looked at 50 years of kids' drawings of scientists. What he found? Fascinating.

What do kids think a scientist "looks like" nowadays?

It's a question David Miller, a researcher and psychology doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, wanted to find out. So he started digging.

Miller and a team of researchers looked at 78 "draw-a-scientist" studies spanning the previous five decades. As the name suggests, students in kindergarten through grade 12 were asked to draw a scientist and answer some basic questions.

Some of their responses throughout the years, by the way, were quite adorable.



Image courtesy of Richard Jones and Dr. Lori Fulton at University of Hawaii at Manoa.


More important than any cuteness factor, however, was the noticeable shift in what kinds of scientists children have drawn since the 1960s.

Over the course of five decades, an increasing number of children drew scientists who were women.

Image courtesy of Richard Jones and Dr. Lori Fulton at University of Hawaii at Manoa.

These findings by Miller and his team at Northwestern, newly published in the journal Child Development, led to encouraging results for anyone hoping more girls may be taking interest — or, at the very least, may potentially see themselves — in STEM-related hobbies or careers.

The earliest study Miller analyzed took place between 1966 and 1977, when an overwhelming number of elementary-aged students drew men as scientists: Less than 1% of the nearly 5,000 drawings depicted women. More recent research, however, reflects a sharp contrast in that perception: In studies between 1985 and 2016, 28% of children, on average, drew scientists that were women.

Image courtesy of Vasilia Christidou.

The more recent drawings suggest stereotypes linking only men to science-related fields has weakened substantially over time in the U.S., researchers concluded.

"Given this change in stereotypes, girls in recent years might now develop interests in science more freely than before," Miller, the lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Image courtesy of Richard Jones and Dr. Lori Fulton at University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Clearly, there's still progress to be had.

28% is not nearly a high-enough figure. Backward ideas about who can and should become scientists are still being absorbed by kids growing up in the 21st century. Boys are still less likely to draw women scientists than girls are, the research found. And older kids are more likely to draw men than younger ones are, suggesting stereotypes may become more entrenched as kids age.

Furthermore, when it comes to skin color, the overwhelming majority of kids drew scientists interpreted as being white. Although, Miller noted to the The Atlantic, race and ethnicity were more difficult to track, given kids used various colors (or no colors) to draw their scientists throughout the years.

Still, when it comes to gender, the findings show true progress.

Image courtesy of Vasilia Christidou.

The study shows why representation matters.

"It’s optimistic that children’s stereotypes change as gender roles change in society too," Miller said. When girls see doctors, engineers, or computer scientists that are women — whether it be in their own personal lives or on TV and film screens — it can have a powerful effect.

"Children draw what they see,” Toni Schmader of the University of British Columbia at Vancouver told Nature. And when girls can see themselves as anything this world has to offer, we're making meaningful progress.

True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via Pexels.com

The Delta Baby Cafe in Sunflower County, Mississippi is providing breastfeeding assistance where it's needed most.

Mississippi has the third lowest rate of breastfeeding in America. Only 70% of infants are ever-breastfed in the state, compared to 84% nationally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. However, in Mississippi, less than 40% are still breastfeeding at six months.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via msleja / TikTok

In 2019, the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada instituted a policy that forbids teachers from participating in "partisan political activities" during school hours. The policy states that "any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered."

The new policy is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus decision that limits public employees' First Amendment protections for speech while performing their official duties.

This new policy caused a bit of confusion with Jennifer Leja, a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in the district. She wondered if, as a bisexual woman, the new policy forbids her from discussing her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

We've heard from U.S. intelligence officials for at least four years that other countries are engaging in disinformation campaigns designed to destabilize the U.S. and interfere with our elections. According to a recent New York Times article, there is ample evidence of Russia attempting to push American voters away from Joe Biden and toward Donald Trump via the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, which has created a network of fake user accounts and a website that billed itself as a "global news organization."

The problem isn't just that such disinformation campaigns exist. It's that they get picked up and shared by real people who don't know they're spreading propaganda from Russian state actors. And it's not just pro-Trump content that comes from these accounts. Some fake accounts push far-left propaganda and disinformation in order to skew perceptions of Biden. Sometimes they even share uplifting content to draw people in, while peppering their feeds with fake news or political propaganda.

Most of us read comments and responses on social media, and many of us engage in discussions as well. But how do we know if what we're reading or who we're engaging with is legitimate? It's become vogue to call people who seem to be pushing a certain agenda a "bot," and sometimes that's accurate. What about the accounts that have a real person behind them—a real person who is being paid to publish and push misinformation, conspiracy theories, or far-left or far-right content?

Keep Reading Show less