Graduate Research Paper (UNI Access Only)
The purpose of this qualitative content analysis was to analyze the imagery and supporting text of science trade books for children from the National Science Teacher Association’s (NSTA) Outstanding lists for 2019 and 2020, to determine whether they are equitable in the portrayal of females. The 38 selected titles were evaluated using a coding scheme adapted from Caldwell and Wilbraham (2018); Farland-Smith et al., (2017); Kelly (2018); and Rawson and McCool (2014). This study found that in the selected texts analyzed, underrepresentation of females as scientists was prevalent with females being portrayed in less than one-half of the images at 46%, as opposed to males being portrayed in 71% of all images showing scientists. Books were divided into two sections, one for titles about individuals and one for titles about a science topic. In analyzing books about individuals, although there were more than twice as many books about female scientists than male scientists, images of males outpaced images of females 62% to 56% respectively. Females were considered active in performing scientific tasks in 19 of the 38 titles, however, it must be noted that 16 of the 19 books in which females were active in performing scientific tasks, were about specific female scientists. This indicates that females were considered active in only three books, or 8%, that were not specifically about female scientists. All but one of the books about specific female scientists, Mae Among the Stars (Ahmed & Burrington, 2018), contained images of male scientists. Books about specific male scientists rarely contained images of female scientists, and for those that did, five or fewer images of females were observed in each. The most substantial imbalance was found in trade books about a science topic, where male scientists were shown in 93% of images as opposed to females being shown in only 22% of the images. In one particular book with 48 images, females were depicted in just 4 images, and were not shown in a single image performing a scientific task, as opposed to males, who were performing scientific tasks working on a spacecraft, as astronauts, and as Mission Control engineers monitoring the flight of a spacecraft.
Year of Submission
Master of Arts
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Division of School Library Studies
Karla Krueger, First Reader
1 PDF file (52 pages)
©2021 Carolyn Proesch
Proesch, Carolyn, "Portrayal of females in notable science trade books for children" (2021). Graduate Research Papers. 1877.