Hannah Oros


Small Talk: Gender, New Media, and the Public Communication of Nanoscientists


Nanotechnology is hailed as the next Industrial Revolution and it is an emerging technology that has vast potential to change the world we live in. Because public opinion and scientific literacy can affect the development of nanotechnology, the public communication of science and technology (PCST) by nanoscientists is imperative to study, specifically through models of public engagement. Nano-scientists are uniquely situated to communicate about nanotechnology because of their expert knowledge. However, gender differences must be examined because the field of nanotechnology is male-dominated. New media platform usage when engaging in PCST activities is also researched in this thesis, because new media platforms have the potential to possibly be more democratic, interactive, and engaging. When examining PCST, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and attitudes, only a few significantly significant gender differences were found: the helpfulness of using new media platforms to communicate about science, using social networks to communicate about science, and how voluntary the use of new media platforms was to communicate about science. Although almost all of the results indicated no significant gender differences, gender is a relevant issue regarding PCST activities because there are still inequalities within the field of nanotechnology, such as in publishing, patenting, the targeting of product development, and general underrepresentation. Gender equality matters because it could promote “scientific and technological products, services, and solutions that are likely to be better designed and more likely to represent all users, and the direction of scientific inquiry will be guided by a broader array of experiences” (Corbett, 2011).