Friday, April 5, 2013

What Does a Geologist/Earth Scientist Look Like? Let Us Know!

Look! A geologist! And he's an old white guy with a rock hammer! No stereotypes here (Photo by Mrs. Geotripper).

A post today over at Jacks of Science bemoaned the stereotypes of scientists as indicated by stock photography. Some of the pictures of "scientists" at work were a bit hilarious, but it was also a bit sobering to think that stock photography sites are the places that authors and publishers go to for pictures on just about any subject. I'm sure there are pictures of scientists that don't involve white coats and test tubes filled with colored liquids. Right?

I got curious, though. What would the stock photography sites have under the topic of "geologist"? I started scouring the stock image sites, and was pretty much unimpressed. If we are to go by these images, almost all geologists are men, and they work with oil derricks in the background. And like gold miners with their pans and jackasses, all geologists carry rock hammers. Okay, well that's true if they are in the field, but at least they use them right. There are three people, a senior man, a senior woman, and a kid who all strangely appear on just about all the sites, and all of them are holding the hammer the wrong way.

Stereotypes are sometimes true, but they are also often wrong, and limiting. What is anyone to think if the only picture we get of geologists is that they are all men and only work in the oilfields? It has taken years to convince minority and women students that there are great opportunities in the earth sciences, and some data suggest that enrollments are leveling off in some areas. At the same time a large percentage of practicing geologists are approaching retirement age and schools are not enrolling enough students to fill the expected shortfall in the coming decade. We who are employed as geologists and earth scientists should be doing whatever we can to reverse these trends.

Over at my "stock" photography site Geotripper Images (I do indeed have pictures of stocks on the site), I've opened a new category called "Geologists at Work". There is very little in it thus far, but I am asking my readers and fellow geobloggers (is 'fellow' a gender stereotype?) to consider sending over a picture of themselves or their coworkers doing geology in whatever setting. My goal is to have pictures that show the wide variety of careers in geology and the earth sciences, and if they can show up in an image search, maybe folks (especially young students working on career-type projects) can get a better impression of what geologists do.

The pictures on my photography site are free for use in educational projects and non-profit publications, but I ask for payment if the photographs are to be used in profit-making publications and textbooks. If you donate a photo, you will retain all copyright privileges, and if I am ever contacted by a publisher who wants to use your photo, I will refer them to you.

If you would like to submit a photograph, make sure whoever is in the photo is okay with it being posted, and send it to me at hayesg (at) I will try to post it as soon as possible. Thanks for your assistance!

Speaking of stereotypes, check out the story of my own attempt at drawing a "geologist at work":
For a description of all the aspects of being a geology student, check out:

1 comment:

carrie said...

i really miss being a Geology student