Thursday, December 17, 2009

Study: Star Trek prevents females from becoming Computer Scientists?


Does Star Trek really turn women away from computer science?! I don't think so, but scientists claim otherwise.

According to the startling news article: "New research published in the December Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that the stereotype of computer scientists as unwashed nerds may be partially responsible for the dearth of women in the field, as shown by National Science Foundation statistics."

"Cheryan and colleagues tested this idea by alternately decorating a computer science classroom with objects that earlier surveys pegged as stereotypically geeky—Star Trek posters, videogames and comic books — or with objects that the surveys found to be neutral— coffee mugs, plants and art posters. Thirty-nine college students spent a few minutes in the room, then filled out a questionnaire on their attitudes toward computer science.

Women who spent time in the geeky room reported less interest in computer science than women who saw the neutral room. For male students, however, the room’s d├ęcor made no difference."

If we have readers who are female computer scientists, can you confirm/deny this - or comment about the findings?

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  1. I have a BS degree in computer science. I am a software developer and have been professionally programming for almost 13 years. I love to code. I totally love Star Trek. I am a BIG science fiction fan. I enjoy playing computer games. Just bought Dragon Age Origins. I love the stuff at I do have fellow female co-workers who are nowhere near as into this type of stuff as I am. One of my male co-workers told me that I am the geekest person he knows. He said that was a complement. If I got a chance to spend time in the geeky room I would be right at home. There must be reasons why women are so lacking in this major versus the much higher numbers in other science majors. But I can’t tell you why or why the numbers keep dropping. Maybe I am an anomaly. But I will have no problem watching the latest Star Trek movie wearing a t-shirt that reads “There are only 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, and those who don't”

  2. Star Trek TNG convinced me to swap from being an English Lit major to NatSci. To me, that show is all about intelligent, fun people who enjoy their jobs and have an amazing time - something I find a lot more appealing than a lifetime spent serving coffees at Starbucks. It certainly doesn't put me off a career in science, and as for the unwashed geek stereotype - ask any of the girls I know, and they'll tell you it's the musicians and the poets with the hygiene problem!