The Effect of Participants’ Race and Gender on Perceptions of STEM and Non-STEM Images of Women

By Shane T. Warren, Joon Soo Lim, John Nicholson, Emily D. Ryalls, Skye Cooley, Mark Goodman, Bonnie Oppenheimer, James Codling, Thomas Robinson and Laci Kyles.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

A total of 208 participants provided assessments of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) or non-STEM images. The participants viewed 36 images of women. Participants in one survey viewed the 36 images, which were assigned a STEM job title. Participants in the second survey viewed the same 36 images, which were assigned a non-STEM job title. Images were assessed for attractiveness and job-related factors, such as creativity, job performance, intelligence, and organization. Differences were found based upon the race and gender of the participant and the race, gender, and body size of the women represented in the images. Perceptions of the images differed based upon the assignment of a STEM or non-STEM job title. African-American women evaluated STEM images more favorably overall than Caucasian women. Female participants evaluated the STEM images of Caucasians more favorably than male participants. Our results confirm that cultural stereotypes affect people's perceptions of women in the STEM fields.

Keywords: STEM, Race, Gender, Non-STEM, Images, Body Size

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.63-73. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 497.242KB).

Shane T. Warren

Instructor, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, Mississippi State University, USA

Shane is an instructor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at Mississippi State University, USA.

Dr Joon Soo Lim

Assistant Professor, Department of Public Relations, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA

Dr. Joon Soo Lim received his PhD from the University of Florida. He is an assistant professor in the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. His research focuses on persuasion and the social influence of public relations campaigns that leverage social media strategies.

Dr. John Nicholson

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, USA

Dr. Nicholson graduated from the University of Iowa (Ph.D., 1998) and has participated in multiple interdisciplinary projects including the current STEM research presented here. His other research areas include sibling research and family nickname research.

Emily D. Ryalls

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA

Emily is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University, USA.

Dr. Skye Cooley

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA

Skye is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University, USA.

Dr. Mark Goodman

Professor, Department of Communication, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, USA

Dr. Goodman has studied at Southwest Missouri State University (BA History & Journalism), Southwest Missouri State University (MA History), and University of Missouri (PhD Communication). He has taught courses in Mass Media, Public Relations, and Speech at Mississippi State University, USA.

Dr. Bonnie Oppenheimer

Professor, Department of Sciences and Mathematics, Mississippi University For Women, Columbus, Mississippi, USA

Dr. Oppenheimer teaches mathematics classes for education majors at Mississippi University for Women. A certified high school teacher, she has long been interested in why women do not choose the STEM fields. She helped form our research group, and has led the group’s efforts to pursue the STEM research questions.

Dr. James Codling

instructor, College of Education, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, USA

Dr. Codling is an Instructor in the College of Education at Mississippi State University, USA.

Thomas Robinson

Research assistant, Mississippi State University, USA

Thomas is a Research Assistant at Mississippi State University, USA.

Laci Kyles

Research Assistant, Mississippi State University, USA

Laci is a Research Assistant at Mississippi State University, USA.