The role of women in STEM disciplines. A multimodal analysis of crowdfunding project videos for the iGEM science competition.
Keywords:women in STEM; crowdfunding project videos of science; multimodal analysis; gender stereotypes and bias; digital genres.
The gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a matter of growing social concern: although the female presence in these disciplines has grown during the last decades, men still outnumber women (Corbett & Hill, 2015). It has been shown that this is partly because of the lack of visibility that the work of women scientists has had along history, which has led to unconscious beliefs and stereotypes about gender and professional careers, and therefore, the disinterest in science on the female side (Nimmesgern, 2016). Previous research has shown that these stereotypes are reinforced through television programs depicting fictional women characters in STEM scenarios (Steinke, 2017; Davis & Coleman, 2018), and the present study aims to explore the representation of real female and male scientists on the Internet. By applying a multimodal analysis from a social semiotic perspective, I examine how gender identities are represented in eight crowdfunding project videos of science created by undergraduate students for an international science competition, the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM). Relying on the Swalesian move-step analysis genre approach for the verbal content (Swales, 1990, 2004), and Kress and van Leeuwen’s Visual Grammar (VG) model for the visual content (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006), the analysis intends to uncover ideological purposes and meanings about gender roles within a context of scientific research. The results are compatible with previous studies that confirm that women are underrepresented in STEM, highlighting the ideologies that lead to the reinforcement of gender bias at the scientific workplace.
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