The Massive Gender Gap in the Science Audience




Last month Pew released a comprehensive analysis of news audience trends over time and across demographics. One of the key findings (depicted at left) was the continued decline in public attention to news about science and technology, with only 13% of Americans saying they follow the topic "very closely."

News about the environment and health fair better, with roughly 1 out of 5 Americans answering that they follow these issues "very closely." Yet even for health, there has been a significant decline in news attention, dropping from 26% in 2002.

Far more troubling, however, is the massive gender gap in the news audience for science and technology. As the table at left depicts, among the audience who follows science and technology "very closely," 71% are men compared to 29% who are women. The gender gap on science and technology is the widest for any news genre and roughly equivalent to that for sports. Whereas men dominate the news audience for science and technology, women are disproportionately represented among the attentive audience for health (64% women to 34% men). There is no significant gender gap on news about the environment.

As I have written before, these trends reflect the "problem of choice" in a fragmented media system. Absent a strong preference or motivation for news about a particular topic, even among the college educated, an individual can very easily avoid such information, and only pay attention to their preferred news genre or alternatively, the many competing entertainment content choices.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Life is hard: Jordan Peterson and the nature of suffering

The Canadian professor's old-school message is why many started listening to him.

Jordan Peterson addresses students at The Cambridge Union on November 02, 2018 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. (Photo by Chris Williamson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth
  • The simplicity of Peterson's message on suffering echoes Buddha and Rabbi Hillel.
  • By bearing your suffering, you learn how to become a better person.
  • Our suffering is often the result of our own actions, so learn to pinpoint the reasons behind it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less