How Gender and Race of Geologists are Portrayed in Physical Geology Textbooks

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Articles and Special Issues
Mattox, S., Bridenstine, M., Burns, B., Torresen, E., Koning, A., Meek, S. P., Ritchie, M., Schafer, N., Shepard, L., Slater, A., Waters, T., & Wigent, A. (2008). How Gender and Race of Geologists are Portrayed in Physical Geology Textbooks. Journal of Geoscience Education, 56(2), 156-159. DOI: 10.5408/1089-9995-56.2.156
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AGI estimates that 275,000 physical geology text books are sold in the United States per year. We selected 15 texts from nine different publishers. Data was collected from photos with scientists. Gender data was divided into male, female, and unknown. We noted if the individual was Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Latino, or unknown. Of the 307 geologists in the figures, 214 are male (69.7%), 61 are female (19.9%), and 32 are of undeterminable gender (10.4%). Out of 214 males, 168 are Caucasian (78.5%), 9 are racially diverse (4.2%), and 37 are unknown (17.3%). Out of 61 females, 51 are Caucasian (83.6%), 4 are racially diverse (6.6%), and 6 are unknown (9.8%). The books portray males as 3.5 times more likely to be geologists compared to females. This ratio significantly exceeds the current proportion of men and women entering the workforce (58% male and 42% female for B.S. degrees in Earth science) or the near equal proportions in the U.S. population. The books imply that Caucasian geologists are 15 times more abundant in the workforce compared to their non-white peers.This ratio differs significantly from the data for recent graduates and the general U.S. population (about 3:1 for both data sets).


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