PICTURING A SCIENTIST IN MIDDLE SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS a visual rhetoric approach to the problem of gender disparities in STEM h.m.wells, texas lutheran university rhetoric society of america conference 2012
PURPOSES OF THE STUDY to add to the expanding theories of visual rhetoric by applying the visual analysis method of Kress and Van Leeuwen (1996) to images from 7th grade life science books to apply rhetorical analysis (enthymemes and repetition) to these same images to look for visual arguments
RESEARCH QUESTIONS How are gender roles presented in the photographs in science textbooks? How do science textbooks present the occupational roles and activities of the genders in these texts? In what ways can Kress and Van Leeuwen’s (1996) theory of visual grammar help in understanding how images in science textbooks argue? In what ways can analysis of repetition help us understand the visual arguments that textbook images make over an entire text?
RESEARCH HYPOTHESES H1: While girls and boys are photographically represented fairly equally in number in science texts published within the past decade, girls are still being represented in less-powerful and/or less-important roles than boys. H2: Visual analysis using Kress and Van Leeuwen’s theory will yield thick description and rich data about each analyzed image, enabling me to show how each textbook represents gender visually.
ASSUMPTIONS FROM THE LITERATURE Gender is not necessarily a simple binary (male/female), but may best be treated as such for this project. Children identify with pictures they see in textbooks. There is such a thing as rhetoric of science. There is such a thing as visual rhetoric. Photographs are assumed to be representations of reality. Pictures can argue; they do so enthymematically. Women pursue STEM careers less often than men, and this is a problem for our society.
METHODOLOGY The naturalistic enthymeme (Finnegan, 2001): viewers see the photograph as an actual representation of nature, and as capable of arguing enthymematically. “The Rhetoric’s official definition of enthymeme is its definition of sullogismos” (Burnyeat, 1996, p. 96). “An enthymeme is an argument (sullogismus tis) in a rhetorical speech” (p. 98).
METHODOLOGY Kress & Van Leeuwen (1996) tests of image modality: color saturation color differentiation color modulation contextualization representation depth illumination brightness coding orientation horizontal & vertical angles
METHODOLOGY People Category (see Kress & Van Leeuwen, 1996; Whiteley, 1996; and Elgar, 2004) Gender Uniform/Clothing Vectors/Interactions Age – Adult or youth This information was used to look for enthymemes in the images.
DATA COLLECTION Three 7th grade life science textbooks PrenticeHall 2005 Glencoe 2005 McDougal Littell 2005
RESULTS – ALL TEXTS 250 200 150 100 GLENCOE 2005 MCDOUGAL LITTELL 2005 50 PRENTICE HALL 2005 0
RESULTS – ALL TEXTS 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% 70.00% 80.00% 90.00%100.00% Saturation Modulation Differentiation Contextualization Detail McDougal Littell Text Naturalistic Range Glencoe Text Naturalistic Range Depth Prentice Hall Text Naturalistic Range Illumination Brightness Coding Orientation Horizontal Angles Vertical Angles
VISUAL ENTHYMEMES—SINGLE IMAGE Observation: A white boy, standing, pulls an item from a paper bag. A white girl, seated, looks at the item, smiling, and writes something down on a notepad. Both wear plain, unmodulated-color shirts. Generalization: Boys perform experiments, while girls assist by taking notes. Inference 1: If you are a girl, then you will probably take notes for a boy. Inference 2: If you are a boy, then you will perform experimental tasks (perhaps while standing up). Inference 3: If you are a girl, you will be very happy about performing secretarial tasks for boys. Inference 4: If you are a girl, you probably need to sit down while performing secretarial tasks.
VISUAL ENTHYMEMES—REPETITION Observation: White male works outdoors as forestry technician. He wears a hard hat and orange safety vest. He works alone. Generalization: Men are interested in work as forestry experts. Inference 1: If you are male, you may enjoy this type of work. Inference 2: Forestry work is dangerous (hard hat and safety vest) and takes place outdoors. Inference 3: If you are female, you may not be interested in this type of work (perhaps because it is dangerous and takes place outdoors). Inference 4: If you are a male forestry technician, you can work alone; you do not need assistance to do your job.
VISUAL ENTHYMEMES—REPETITION Observation: A female doctor is pointing something out to a female nurse. The doctor is dressed in a lab coat and wears a stethoscope and badge. The nurse seems to be dressed more casually. The doctor is white, whereas the nurse is African American. The doctor stands in front of the nurse and has the nurse look over her shoulder. Generalization: Women can work as doctors or nurses. Inference 1: If you are female, you may enjoy working in the health professions, either as a doctor or nurse. Inference 2: If you are male, you may not enjoy working in the health professions (though we know from experience that the majority of doctors are male, so this inference is somewhat unlikely). Inference 3: If you are African American and female, you probably will be a nurse and not a doctor. Inference 4: Doctors are more important than nurses: they have to wear badges, lab coats, and pocket protectors, and they give instructions to nurses.
VISUAL ENTHYMEMES—REPETITION Observation: A picture of a white male outdoor worker is situated above and to the left of a picture of two female health care workers. The way their bodies are placed, the male is facing down and to the left (toward the spine of the book), and the women are facing down and just slightly to the right (toward the page margin)— this creates a visual separation between them, so that even though they are in the same area of the page, they appear utterly separate. Generalization: Elements pictured on the left are presented as Given, whereas elements on the right are presented as New (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 1996, p. 187). Inference 1: It is a given that men do outdoor jobs such as forestry. Inference 2: It is new that women do jobs in health care (especially as doctors). Inference 3: Men work alone; women have to work in pairs or groups. Inference 4: Compared to men, women do indoor jobs that are less dangerous and physically strenuous.
VISUAL ENTHYMEMES –VS. VERBAL ENTHYMEMES Observation (Photo): A photo of Marie Curie. She is a white female. Generalization: This is what Marie Curie looks like. Inference: Females in the late 19th century could look like this, and they could be scientists. Observation (Caption): The text describes how Curies work depended upon the work of Henri Becquerel, and that she eventually won the Nobel for discovering radioactivity. Generalization: Marie Curie’s work couldn’t have been done without the foundational work of Becquerel. Inference: A woman, even a scientist, cannot reach the heights of her field without the help of a man.
VISUAL ENTHYMEMES –VS. VERBAL ENTHYMEMES Observation (Photo): This is a photo of Charles Darwin. He is dressed in the fashion of the first half of the 19th century. He is balding and looks serious. Generalization: This is what the young Darwin looked like. Inference: Darwin was a white man with a slight comb-over when he began his early research. Observation (Caption): The text states that Darwin was just 20 when he took his trip to the Galapagos Islands. Generalization: Darwin was quite young—younger than the average scientist, perhaps. Inference: If you are a young, white male, you too could change the course of scientific discovery. Inference: If you are anyone other than a young, white male, you may not identify with this
DISCUSSION The images were naturalistic in the majority of categories in all three books. Of the three, the McDougal Littell’s images were the most naturalistic. Visuals in these textbooks argue enthymematically through accepted cultural knowledge and stereotypes.
MALES FEMALES Pictured more often in active roles Pictured in traditionally female roles workplace, family life, and parenting, teaching, helping, and supporting experimental situations (e.g., lab assistant, secretary, nurse, elementary When pictured with females, males were school teacher) much more likely to be performing an When depicted in roles requiring advanced activity education, shown working with other filling a beaker or measuring an object women, or with children, rather than as Pictured doing traditionally male jobs equals or supervisors to men working outdoors, lifting heavy When in nontraditional roles, these objects, getting dirty, doing science appearances were given great fanfare (set Pictured in jobs that required advanced apart in sidebars, plastered across two education pages, or otherwise drawn attention to) “Remember, women never used to do these sorts When shown in family situations, much of things” or—perhaps worse—“Look what a good more likely to be the recipients of service job our editors did of making sure women in than the providers of it science were represented in our textbook” Pictured as smiling, even when passively watching males doing all the activitiesMALE VS. FEMALE ROLES
7TH GRADE LIFE SCIENCE: PERPETUATING STEREOTYPES In all, these three textbooks seem to make an effort to offer women equal representation, but they ultimately fail by perpetuating several stereotypes: Males are the norm, females are other Males do science, females take notes Males do dirty jobs, females do clean jobs Males are active, females are passive Males are doers, females are caregivers Science is objective Females are scarce in STEM
WHAT NEXT? Updates with newer texts Comparisons of older to newer editions of same text Representation of women of color and women with visible disabilities We need to do a better job representing women in STEM careers as NORMAL!
THANK YOU! Sara Newman, PhD, Dissertation Director Derek Van Ittersum, PhD (Kent, LRSP) Ray Craig, PhD (Kent, LRSP) Robert Heath, PhD (Kent, Biology) Igniting Streams of Learning in Science (www.islsohio.org) Jaryl & Julian Altomare Sigrid Streit for all the feedback All of YOU!