Out of 66 countries surveyed for a recent American study at Northwestern University, the Netherlands came out on top for perpetuating gender stereotypes that men are scientists and women, not so much. Other ’emancipated’ countries such as Denmark and Norway known for their gender equity also perpetuate these gender stereotypes.
“Dutch men outnumbered Dutch women by nearly four to one among both science majors and employed researchers,” David I. Miller, lead author of the study noted. “The strong stereotypes in the Netherlands, therefore, reflect the reality of male dominance in science there.”
Miller also mentions the importance of teachers having to quote someone more contemporary than Marie Curie, as if women hadn’t done anything noteworthy in science since the 1900s. Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 together with her husband Pierre Curie, and was the only woman to win twice, with a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911 all on her own. Curie must have had an influence on her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 together with her husband Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Both Joliot-Curie children, a daughter and a son also become scientists in their own right.
The more women there are in science, the less gender stereotyping there should be in the long run, Miller points out.
I recommend reading soviet writer Natalya Baranskaya’s ‘A Week Like Any Other’ from 1969. You’ll find out about Olga, a full-time research scientist, wife and mother of two and all her female colleagues who went into science because it was the best place to work, albeit not without its own problems.