Young people’s images of science and scientists are heavily imbued with moral dimensions, both ‘moral panics’ and exaggerated expectations about what science can deliver in the service of humanity. One concern is that such images may deter some young people from pursuing science, but in contrast is the parallel concern that a naïve ’value-free’ image of science may attract young people who wish to avoid moral dilemmas in their work.
British data show gender differences, with boys being more comfortable with a problem-solving, hi-tech image of science detached from ethics, while girls, especially those who would like to pursue science, see ethics as central to science. Data from a six nation study show similarities and differences from the British data. These gender effects are looked at within a larger picture of patterns of young people’s values around science, and the implications for both moral and science education.