With Great Power Comes Gender Diversity: STEM Stereotypes and Marvel Superpowers
Keywords:STEM, Comics, Graphic Novels, Gender, Stereotypes
Gender representation inequality occurs across various STEM sub-disciplines. For example, the sub-disciplines of computer science and engineering are male-dominant, while psychology and biological sciences are female-dominant. One possible cause of this gender inequality is the STEM professional stereotype; created, in large part, by media portrayals of STEM scientists. Across four studies I analyze the gender representation in portrayals of STEM skills in Marvel comics and their relation to real-world STEM educational outcomes, namely, bachelor’s degrees attained in STEM. Study #1 shows that the portrayals of many STEM skills are gender biased for Marvel characters debuting before 1991. Study #2 shows that this gender bias in Marvel comics correlated with real-world STEM educational outcomes. Study #3 shows that Marvel characters debuting after 2000 show no gender biases in the portrayals of STEM skills. Finally, Study #4 makes predictions of how real-world educational outcomes are expected to change due to the increased gender equality in the portrayal of STEM skills in popular media.
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