World Science reports that “mostly-male book images may reduce girls’ science scores“. Or to frame it more positively, more images of girls in the textbooks increased girls’ performance.
Part of the reason boys tend to outscore girls in science classes may be that most textbooks show predominantly male scientists’ images, a small exploratory study has found.
The study, on 81 young high-school students, saw the “gender gap” apparently reversed when youths were tested based on a text containing only female scientist images, investigators said. The gap returned in its usual form when male-only images were used—and vanished when the photos showed equal numbers of men and women scientists, researchers said. … (April 23, 2010)
The full study: Jessica J. Good, Julie A. Woodzicka and Lylan C. Wingfield (2010). “The Effects of Gender Stereotypic and Counter-Stereotypic Textbook Images on Science Performance”, Journal of Social Psychology150 (2): 132-147. (Abstract)