Computer, Draw a Scientist: Do AI Images Reject or Reflect Gender Stereotypes?

Computer, Draw a Scientist: Do AI Images Reject or Reflect Gender Stereotypes?

Science writer Lisa M.P. Munoz recreated the famous Draw a Scientist exercise using AI prompts. Discover her findings and what they mean for entrenched biases in AI.

October 13, 2023 by Lisa M.P. Munoz

If you had asked me to draw an engineer when I was in middle school, I would have drawn my big sister. I would go on to pursue engineering just like her. She chose that path after watching informational college videos, designed to recruit women into the profession, showing how much engineers could make a difference in society.

That’s the power of pictures. They shape how we think the world works, who we admire, and, although sometimes unconsciously, who we think we’ll become one day. As society evolves, so too do the pictures we create, whether in film or on paper. For decades, social scientists have documented those changes in perceptions of scientists and engineers in a series of experiments — increasingly reflecting broader views of STEM than previous generations.

These experiments have shown major shifts in children’s perceptions of scientists over the last 60 years. But recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and increased use of AI tools are raising questions about what images future generations will see and how that may impact future generations of scientists. Rather than freeing us from past stereotypes, new research suggests these high-tech images are yet another data set that mirrors society’s deeply entrenched human biases.

Read the full post on the Society of Engineers blog site.