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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 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.v15.i4.10
pages 279-301

SEEING ONESELF AS A SCIENTIST: MEDIA INFLUENCES AND ADOLESCENT GIRLS' SCIENCE CAREER-POSSIBLE SELVES

Jocelyn Steinke
Western Michigan University
Maria Lapinski
Department of Communication and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Michigan State University
Marilee Long
Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, Colorado State University
Catherine Van Der Maas
School of Communication, Western Michigan University
Lisa Ryan
Lakeview School District in Michigan
Brooks Applegate
Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology, Western Michigan University

ABSTRACT

Early adolescence is a critical time for fostering girls' awareness and interest in science, engineering, and technology careers as they actively construct their identities. Possible selves theory describes the factors that influence adolescent girls as they create current and future identities. Research suggests that media models can influence views of possible selves, including views of future careers. This study investigated adolescents' academic self-views related to science and the impact of viewing televised scientist characters on these views. This study also assessed adolescents' future career preferences, in general, and specifically in science. Television images of scientists were selected from programs popular among or likely to have been seen by middle school students. The results of this study found that prior to viewing televised scientist characters, girls had lower views of their current but not future academic science self-views than did boys. Viewing televised scientist characters led to a positive change in both adolescent girls' and adolescent boys' future but not current academic science self-views. Adolescent girls were more than twice as likely as boys to list scientific careers as hoped-for future careers; however, adolescent girls also listed scientific careers as feared future careers.