Scholarly interest in media portrayals of female scientists has emerged as a focus of media studies research because such portrayals (1) reflect cultural views and trends related to the status and roles of women in the workforce and society, and (2) are potential sources of information and influence about future professional roles for children and young adults. This chapter traces the historical underrepresentation and gender stereotyping found in portrayals of women scientists in the mass media and describes the role these media portrayals play as factors that can limit the representation and status of women in the science, engineering, and technology (SET) workforce. This chapter also explores contemporary portrayals of female scientists that challenge gender-stereotyped claims of science as a masculine domain and examines the potential of these more progressive portrayals to broaden the participation of women in SET.
Scholarly interest in media portrayals of female scientists has emerged as a focus of communication research for two main reasons. First, media portrayals of women in professional roles, in general, reflect cultural views and trends related to the current status as well as the changing roles of women in the workforce and society (Downs, 1981; Glascock, 2001; Haskell, 1979; Massoni, 2004; Signorielli & Bacue, 1999; Signorielli & Kahlenberg, 2001; Vande Berg & Streckfuss, 1992; Weigel ...