A ten-year old study shows how seventh graders view scientists:
In the study, 31 seventh graders were asked to describe and sketch a typical scientist. Then they visited Fermilab, the applied-physics facility in Batavia, Illinois. After a tour and meetings with actual lab employees, they repeated the exercise.
The study testifies to the power of the geek trope: The “before” sketches have a definite mad-scientist vibe, in contrast to the “after” pictures.
Among girls (14 in total), 36 percent portrayed a female scientist in the “before” drawing, and 57 percent portrayed a female scientist in the “after” drawing. Among boys (17 in total), 100 percent portrayed a male scientist in the “before” drawing, and 100 percent portrayed a male scientist in the “after” drawing.
Interestingly, while the mad-scientist representation seems more present in the “before” sketches, technology seems more consistently present in the “after.” Although that itself, as we know, is a mad science of its own. The original sketches are wild.