Sexy image turns girls off

15th September 2006 at 01:00
She is young, beautiful and she removes her glasses at the first opportunity. This is the modern female scientist, as imagined by TV executives and appearing in countless television shows and films.

And she is putting young girls off studying physics, according to research by the Open University, writes Madeleine Brettingham.

The "Invisible Witnesses" project, lead by academics at the Centre for Education and Education Technology, criticises television programmers for using female presenters as light relief. And for continuing to peddle unrealistic portrayals of women in science, such as the woman pictured on the left inspecting a slide who was used to promote a research and development project for a bio tech firm.

Researchers said of the TV portrayals: "They are often young and glamorous, unrealistically young for the positions viewers are asked to believe they occupy."

They warn that the stereotyping of scientists with attractive women could affect girls' educational choices.

Just 20 per cent of A-level physics students are female, and only 75 per cent of women with science and technology degrees go on to pursue science as a career.

The number of A-level candidates taking physics as a whole has halved since the early 1980s, say researchers.

"Invisible witness? How science and scientists are represented on UK television" Open university

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now