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The Gendered Culture of Scientific Competence: A Study of Scientist Characters in Doctor Who 1963-2013

Orthia, Lindy; Morgain, Rachel

Description

The present study examines the relationship between gender and scientific competence in fictional representations of scientists in the British science fiction television program Doctor Who. Previous studies of fictional scientists have argued that women are often depicted as less scientifically capable than men, but these have largely taken a simple demographic approach or focused exclusively on female scientist characters. By examining both male and female scientists (n = 222) depicted over...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorOrthia, Lindy
dc.contributor.authorMorgain, Rachel
dc.date.accessioned2016-03-07T00:35:31Z
dc.identifier.issn0360-0025
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/100172
dc.description.abstractThe present study examines the relationship between gender and scientific competence in fictional representations of scientists in the British science fiction television program Doctor Who. Previous studies of fictional scientists have argued that women are often depicted as less scientifically capable than men, but these have largely taken a simple demographic approach or focused exclusively on female scientist characters. By examining both male and female scientists (n = 222) depicted over the first 50 years of Doctor Who, our study shows that, although male scientists significantly outnumbered female scientists in all but the most recent decade, both genders have consistently been depicted as equally competent in scientific matters. However, an in-depth analysis of several characters depicted as extremely scientifically non-credible found that their behavior, appearance, and relations were universally marked by more subtle violations of gender expectations. Incompetent male scientists were largely depicted as effeminate and lacking in masculinity. In addition, many incompetent male and all incompetent female scientists served regimes that were problematically effeminate, collectivist and pacifist, or male-rejecting and ruled by women. Although Doctor Who avoids overtly treating women and men unequally, strong codes of masculine capability and prowess nevertheless continue to influence representations of scientific competence, pointing to the continued pervasiveness of such associations within wider Western culture. Professionals working to encourage gender-inclusive practices in science should look to subtle discourses about the masculine culture of science in addition to institutional and structural impediments to participation for women and gender minorities.
dc.publisherSpringer
dc.rights© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016. http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/issn/0360-0025/..."Author's post-print on any open access repository after 12 months after publication" from SHERPA/RoMEO site (as at 07/03/16).
dc.sourceSex Roles
dc.subjectscience
dc.subjectgender equality
dc.subjectgender variance
dc.subjectmasculinities
dc.subjecttelevision
dc.subjectmedia images
dc.subjectpopular culture
dc.subjectcontent analysis
dc.titleThe Gendered Culture of Scientific Competence: A Study of Scientist Characters in Doctor Who 1963-2013
dc.typeJournal article
dc.date.issued2016-03-02
local.identifier.absfor160808 - Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
local.identifier.ariespublicationU3488905xPUB11673
local.publisher.urlhttp://link.springer.com/
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationLindy A Orthia, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationRachel Morgain, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University
local.identifier.essn1573-2762
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage1
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage16
local.identifier.doi10.1007/s11199-016-0597-y
dc.date.updated2016-06-14T08:40:01Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-84959536566
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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