According to this film, lifted from ABATC

I made a list using whatever gender cues were given of what was seemingly suggesed for boys vs. girls to aspire to. No great surprizes. Well, actually, there are few slightly surprising items on the girls’ list. 1

For Boys:

  • astro-scientist/Astronaut
  • chemist
  • biology
  • physics
  • sports star who knows about science
  • musician who knows about science
  • medicine
  • security
  • destruction/evil scientist
  • Nobel peace prize
  • cure world hunger
  • civil engineer
  • professor
  • agricultural science
  • electrochemical engineer
  • astronomy
  • pharmacology
  • philosophy
  • statesmen
  • minister
  • archaeology and palaeontology
  • not acting

For Girls:

  • might be able to hook some guy
  • science can be used in keeping house
  • nutrition
  • infant care
  • physical therapy
  • nursing
  • medial, dental, or lab technician
  • answer questions about the weather and telephones, etc. asked by children.
  • radiology
  • pharmacology assistant
  • nursing
  • dietetics
  • photography


1 By noting that this mid 1950s film seems to profess or encourage a strong gender bias in the kinds of science boys vs. girls of that age should aspire to, this blogger is not condoning or supporting such arcane views. Rather, it is the point of this blog post to point out these biases and their explicit and implicit (but mostly pretty explicit) inclusion in a rhetorical device funded by educational and government institutions of the time to shape the decision making processes of young people.


  1. #1 Betul
    March 18, 2009

    What strikes me is the specific gender-characteristics. While both men in the video are down to earth and rationale, women are lost and naive. Mom (who almost looks like a Stepford wife) has no idea that she needs science, and the girl just wants to find a husband. It’s the brother’s and the husband’s role to awaken the ladies. “How about a nurse? a lab technician? You can do these and have a family” says the father.

    I am sure this video aimed improvement in science, and they did not even pay attention the sub-messages they are promoting – which is the cursory that creates the problem.

  2. #2 Jeremy
    March 18, 2009

    Girls with good science knowledge often hook me 😛

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    March 18, 2009

    Betul: Right, and the girl character is very fond of thinking everybody else is silly.

    Jeremy: Well, I admit that my wife hooked me with her science nerdiness.

  4. #4 Duae Quartunciae
    March 18, 2009

    I have noticed recently that you are sometimes described as writing in a style that can easily be misunderstood. It seems to me that there are a couple of readers who don’t always take enough care in their reading. This is a two way street, of course… and I feel a couple of readers out there should bear that more carefully in mind, especially if they are going to go public with unsafe inferences! I sometimes need to read your posts twice, but that’s fine. I don’t mind and it’s worth it.

    I am glad to see your addendum supplied for any readers who might otherwise misunderstood your intent. Most folks won’t need it; but if anyone does it may help avoid more angst and crossed wires.

    Interesting video. Thanks.

  5. #5 Mankel
    March 18, 2009

    Well, of course, I don’t need to see the video to know that you condone AND support such arcane views. The fact that you have to deny it on your note is nothing more than a proof of that.


    PS: forgive me, but I think I am doing you a favor just not allowing you to relax and keeping you fresh with the kind of criticism that you have been receiving lately.

    PSS: I am a fragile person, I am not sure I would be able to cope with that, at least without losing my temper. Congratulations.

  6. #6 Propter Doc
    March 19, 2009

    Yeah, it’s been TOTALLY the reason for getting a PhD – being able to explain questions about telephones to random kiddies in the street.

    Over all it is the subtle cue of putting women in a position to assist male professionals that is the most interesting. Nurse vs doctor, technician vs full practitioner.

    Really interesting!

  7. #7 khan
    March 19, 2009

    I was born in 1950; I remember all that crap.