Stereotypes in Science 05/11/2015


Bad skin cream

If I tried to sell you a skin cream that moisturised your skin and also made the manufacturer some money; then I also told you it would give you a rash, would you buy it?

Female engineers in the UK

Thought not, and perhaps this is how we have been selling careers sciences to women in the last few decades, like a bad skin cream. The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in the world (7%). Only 21% of A Level physics students are female and chemistry is only marginally better. Biology is the only subject where there is some parity. So what's gone wrong, you could ask? Our society is awash with stereotypes surrounding scientists and science subjects. If I ask you to think of a scientist, what's the first thing that comes into your head?

Science blog 1

Ring any bells?

science-img-2.jpg

Maybe it should be this?

Under pressure to decide upon a career?

Many other stereotypes exist, such as you having to be brainy, tomboyish, low paid research jobs, and having to have a family history of going to university. Another problem science faces is the idea of students having their future career determined at a young age, with no other option but a specialised science career. The reality is that often students leaving to go onto other careers akin to a leaky pipeline after schools, college and university. This I think is a fallacy, there is nothing wrong with studying science and going onto another career, in fact in many areas this is the norm. How many language students become interpreters, how many history students become historians? Why can't you study science where you will learn a range of important life skills, such as self discipline, time management, presentation skills and academic rigour, all of which can prepare you for a diverse range of careers, whether that be in science or not.

Don't worry -- your future opportunities will not be as limited as you think!

So if you feel pigeonholed into choosing your parents' choice of a career, just remember the sciences could offer you more than expected and prepare you for your future, whatever you hope it may be. At Stanmore on our vocational science programmes we offer a wide range of aspects of science, a lot of which is practically based. So whether you want to be the next leading female chemical engineer, or the Brian Cox of neuroscience, we can help you achieve your goals.