Gender Stereotypes in Science and Technology

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Gender Stereotypes in Science and Technology The experiences we have and the ideas we formulate as children can and do have a tremendous impact on what we do with our lives as adults. One thing that we studied during this course was the differences between toys that boys play with and those that girls play with. When little boys are given things to play with like chemistry sets and erector sets, they are given tools to develop skills like mechanical ability and spatial perception. More importantly, in my opinion, this sets up a stereotype about what activities are suitable for boys and which activities are suitable for girls. Just as boys who play with dolls are seen as being unusual, little girls who do "boy things" and play with boys toys are seen as being weird and are therefore discouraged from doing so. When I first began researching this project I was looking for information on tomboys. I was hoping to answer the following question: How does having the label of a tomboy as a child effect what career choices a woman makes as an adult? It was my belief that if young girls think of tomboys in a negative light, girls who are labeled tomboys by their peers will be discouraged from engaging in activities that perpetuates that image of them. If these activities include playing with legos and building forts, then women who may otherwise have gone into technological fields like engineering and computer science will be deterred by the fact that these fields are sterotypically male. An initial literature search yielded disappointing results. The articles which I found fell into basically two categories: first-person narratives about growing up as a tomboy in magazines like Redbook and Southern Living and a few scattered art... ... middle of paper ... ..., and a new generation of women with female role models began entering college. This idea about the gradual shift in beliefs that is currently going on probably explains why I was not able to find any current research on "tomboyism.' in academic journals. Ideas about gender, particularly for women, perhaps not as much for men, have become increasingly fluid in recent years. Women who play sports and enjoy 'male' activities are not only no longer seen as unusual, but are actually seen as having the preferred image. Many advertising firms have been specifically marketing the "tomboy look", because that image of women is now the 'in' image. Though women of my generation have grown up with the word "tomboy' in our vocabularies, perhaps the next generation of young girls will not even realize that playing sports and fixing cars represents gender deviancy on their part.
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