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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v10.i4.70
pages 393-399

DO SCIENTISTS HELP PEOPLE? BELIEFS ABOUT SCIENTISTS AND THE INFLUENCE OF PROSOCIAL CONTEXT ON GIRLS' ATTITUDES TOWARD PHYSICS

Karen L. Yanowitz
Arkansas State University

ABSTRACT

Despite many efforts, science is still a male-dominated field. Girls who do persist in science often express a desire to use their knowledge in socially relevant ways. The current study examined elementary school girls' beliefs about the work of scientists and how presenting information about a prosocial aspect of physics would influence their attitudes toward that information. Participants were asked an open-ended question to assess their knowledge of what scientists do and were presented with scenarios describing physicists in either a discovery context or as helping society. The results revealed that relatively few participants generated prosocial responses to the open-ended question, and the helping context story was rated as significantly more likable than the discovery context. Suggestions are given for educators to include prosocial aspects of science in their teaching.


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