Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM
DRAW-A-GEOLOGIST: INSIGHT INTO STUDENT PRECONCEPTIONS
Understanding incoming undergraduates’ perceptions of sex roles and stereotypes in different disciplines is necessary to foster higher education learning environments that challenge preconceptions and promote diversity and gender equality. A set of surveys based on Chamber’s Draw-a-Scientist-Test (DAST), a tool originally used to identify stereotypes in K-12 classrooms, was created to focus on university students’ perceptions of workforce characteristics, including occupational sex roles and diversity. In the Draw-A-Geologist task, students were instructed to draw two ‘geologists’ and in written form elaborate on their drawings and ideas regarding occupational tasks in the workforce. 300 drawings of geologists were collected during four academic orientation sessions at a Midwestern university. The majority of drawn geologists were males depicted as working outside, most commonly in mountainous areas, and were shown holding rocks and shovels. Overall, students’ drawings do not represent the true gender distribution of the geoscience major nor workforce. In addition, only limited types of the geoscientist, most commonly those working outside or with a microscope, were represented. It is apparent students are entering university with preconceptions about geoscience that could deter consideration of the major itself. This study suggests that students are unaware of the opportunities within the field of geoscience and that preconceptions about career fields need to be addressed in secondary or even elementary school.