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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Media's Role in Public Perceptions of STEM: Understanding Television Portrayals of Scientists through Examination of The Big Bang Theory
by Fairweather, Nicole, Ph.D., Regent University, 2019, 216; 13861204
Abstract (Summary)

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) will drive the economy of the West in the future. The competitiveness and strength of the U.S. economy are reliant on a workforce with the skillset necessary to ensure that the nation remains a powerful force in the global economy. As a result, the underrepresentation of women in STEM is a national crisis. Media have been identified as an agent of social change but there is little research on the role that media play in the perception of STEM. The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows on television. This study examines the portrayal of scientists on The Big Bang Theory and how those depictions influence viewers’ perceptions of science and scientists to understand the existing gender parity within STEM industries. Industry leaders, lawmakers, and activists hold that the lack of media portrayals of women as leaders, free-thinkers, heroines, or independents contribute to stereotypes that women are only capable of playing supporting roles within society. This study examines how scientists and women are portrayed in The Big Bang Theory. This includes exploring the role of gender and occupation in these depictions. Additionally, the Bechdel test was used to examine the portrayal of the female characters, particularly female scientists, on the program. This study also explores media’s influence by analyzing the role of exposure and gender in participants’ behavior modeling. The findings of this study are a significant contribution to the current body of research regarding the cultivation process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brown, William J.
Commitee: Crawford, Kevin, Goins, Terilyn
School: Regent University
Department: Communication & the Arts
School Location: United States -- Virginia
Source: DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Technical Communication, Mass communications, Information science
Keywords: Cultivation theory, Male gaze theory, Media, STEM, Social learning theory, The big bang theory
Publication Number: 13861204
ISBN: 978-1-392-11954-9
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