Half a Century of Stereotyping Associations Between Gender and Intellectual Ability in Films
A particularly longstanding, prevalent, and well-documented stereotype is the belief that men possess higher-level cognitive abilities than women do. This brilliance = male stereotype has been shown to be endorsed even by children as young as 6-years-old and is believed to be a factor driving the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. Motivated by the fact that cultural products serve as a source for acquiring individual values and behaviors, we study the presence of this stereotype in a large collection of movie transcripts covering half a century of Western-world film history (n = 11,550). Concretely, we use natural language processing techniques to quantify associations between gender pronouns and high-level cognitive ability-related words. Overall, our estimates suggest that, at an aggregate level, the brilliance = male stereotype is effectively present in films and that movies specifically targeted at children contain this stereotypical association. Moreover, this pattern seems to have been quite persistent for the last 50 years.
KeywordsGender stereotypes Brilliance = male stereotype STEM fields Film history Culturomics Computational content analysis
We thank OpenSubtitles.org administrators (www.opensubtitles.org) for their invaluable help in gathering subtitle data. We also thank Luciana Ferrer, Carlos Diuk, Diego Fernández Slezak, Julieta Schiro and Agustín Gravano for fruitful discussions and useful comments on the manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.
Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals
The research did not involved human participants and/or animal.
The research did not require and informed consent.
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