Describing Science as an Action Draws More Girls to It

It has been noted that whenever you ask girls to ‘do science’ instead of asking them to ‘be scientists,’ they display greater persistence in any science-related activities. Marjorie Rhodes, an associate professor of NYU Department of Psychology, said that when describing science as an action, more engagement and interest in science takes place than giving it an identity.

The effect of describing science as an action is apparent in children who in most cases are the target of stereotypes whereby they may end up not being those people who succeed in science especially in the case of girls.

A study was carried out, and the findings showed the efforts of pushing girls to enter science by describing it as an action rather than telling them to adopt scientific traits. In most cases, girls are often underrepresented in the science field.

According to Rhodes, the beginning of gender disparity in science starts at the early stages of childhood. She added that research carried out was able to identify elements of a children’s environment which can be targeted to reduce the disparity in science among young ones.

Together with Princeton’s Sarah Jane Leslie, Rhodes noted that the information children often receive through the television focus more on identity rather than action. An example was in 2017; an analysis was carried out whereby in children’s television shows, Rhodes was able to find many programs referring to a scientist as a type of person more than they describe science as an activity. It showed how television shows are not using language entirely to encourage girls to practice science.

The study carried out involved children aged four to nine whereby they were introduced to science as an identity and as an action. It was noted that girls who were asked to do science were more persistence in science games than those asked to be scientists.





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