Though the following is an anecdote, it is analyzed more seriously in a professional science-education journal. It illustrates the Quinean point that there is more than one way to adjust one’s beliefs in light of a recalcitrant experience:
In many ways, it was typical of the kinds of things that NSF-funded researchers do to fulfil [sic] their broader-impacts requirement. [Diandra Leslie-Pelecky] took three female graduate students on weekly visits to local classrooms, where they spent 45-minutes leading nine- and ten-year-old children in practical activities designed to teach them about electricity and circuits. The visitors also talked about their lab work and careers. In addition, Leslie-Pelecky did something less typical of broader-impacts efforts: she brought along education researchers to study the effect of this interaction on the children’s perception of scientists.
Those assessments were startling, she says. After three months, most of the students said that they still weren’t sure who these young ‘teachers’ were – except that they couldn’t possibly be scientists. In their minds, scientists were unfriendly, grey-haired old men in white lab coats.
In addition to the Quinean moment, we can see that cultural stereotypes can trump personal experience. This may be part of what is behind student incivility toward women profs.
the anecdote appears in a fuller discussion of NSF funding requirements in NatureNews.
h/t to female science professor.