top of page

sheMD Journal Club

But You Don't Look Like A Scientist!

sheMD You Look Like a Woman In Medicine

Let's talk about looking like a woman!

An article was published in 2016, titled But You Don’t Look Like A Scientist!: Women Scientists with Feminine Appearance are Deemed Less Likely to be Scientists. Many of us already inherently know this to be true from our experiences. In medicine, young female physicians are assumed to be nurses. Why is that? 

This research concluded that a feminine appearance affected career judgments for female scientists but had no effect on judgments of male scientists. They found increasing femininity decreased the perceived likelihood of that female being a scientist and increasing the perceived likelihood that the female was an early childhood educator. Past research has suggested that femininity and attractiveness are viewed as INCOMPATIBLE with science! 

So for #womeninstem, feminine appearance may erroneously signal that they are not well suited for science. Role incongruity theory tells us that if a person does not “fit” within a career because of a mismatch between that person’s gender role and the career role, then they may experience more prejudice. According to the article, "a woman who is more feminine in appearance than other women will elicit stronger perceived role incongruity and will therefore experience more prejudice than their less feminine counterparts." 

Should we try not to look feminine? NO! Be you. Look the way you want to look. As a wise friend always says, "YOU DO YOU GIRLFRIEND!" We just need to know that this gender bias exists. And that we will encounter it and have to defy it during our careers! 

bottom of page