Does “Geeky” Environment Put Women Off Computer Science?

Mouse and hand I am always impressed by the women I meet when I go to events featuring women in technology. These women are sharp, fun and love their jobs.  However, the stereotypes about what it means to work in technology fields still reflect images that have little bearing on the industry.  These images are still putting off young women from studying the field according to new research from the University of Washington. " The stereotype of computer scientists as geeks who memorize Star Trek lines and never leave the lab may be driving women away from the field, a new study suggests. And women can be turned off by just the physical environment, say, of a computer-science classroom or office that's strewn with objects considered "masculine geeky," such as video games and science-fiction stuff. "When people think of computer science, the image that immediately pops into many of their minds is of the computer geek surrounded by such things as computer games, science-fiction memorabilia and junk food," said lead researcher Sapna Cheryan, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington. "That stereotype doesn't appeal to many women who don't like the portrait of masculinity that it evokes."  Female role models who meet young women before they make their course choices is vital in engaging the next generation of both male and female technologists.

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