Some new research suggests that rooms plastered with Star Trek posters and comic books can turn women off of Computer Science!
Researchers made about 40 college students, both male and female hang out in a “neutral” room or a room decked out in geekery. The female students stuck in the nerd room endorsed less interest in Computer Science on a questionnaire afterward, while male students didn’t show any diff (that’s a null effect, bitches!).
I haven’t had a chance to read the actual publication yet, but i’m excited to see how they decided on what geek cues to use. That sounds like a fun methods section…like, which comic books? Why Star Trek?
Also, I’m fairly sure that Computer Science wasn’t the only geeky interest that they investigated, so I wonder what else was on that questionnaire? And what’s so unattractive about CompSci (is this an abbreviation? it sounds like CompUSA) after hanging out in the geek room? And what goes down in the geek room!?
Maybe eventually we will understand the geek gender gap! Maybe it all hinges on interior decoration? Maybe the implications are confusing and only time (or a thorough reading of the publication itself) will tell! Probably the latter. I will def be reporting back with a far more enlightened perspective!
Until then, is this about women being turned off by dudely geek stereotypes? What do Star Trek and comics have to do with Computer Science? Am I stifling my potential by living in a room full of geek nonsense?What does it all mean?! Oh Social Psychology!
The description of the study in the article confuses me. Do stereotypes have a larger effect on women or do men want to actualize these stereotypes for themselves? The whole framing of this scenario and how to decipher the results raises a lot of questions.
That said, I started off as a CS major in college and my classes were predominantly made up of white guys. The lack of diversity was a big issue in the CS department while I was there and not much has changed since. A big and somewhat related problem with many CS curriculums is that they don’t really don’t do a good job with welcoming novices (like myself) who haven’t been coding their entire lives or haven’t always owned computers. In fact, I remember a good number of my professors defending their teaching style and fast approach as to “weed out” people they didn’t think belonged in CS, which sadly was often women and minorities. I understand making a distinction of either knowing or not knowing the material but it boggles my mind why my professors insisted on making us do arcane and impractical exercises and projects that could never be applied in the real world and would only be somewhat useful if you lucky enough to be a game programmer. At least at my university, they catered to the nerdy gamers.
Which is why I eventually switched to Management Information Systems (MIS) after 3 semesters. We were still required to get a CS minor but with our MIS classes we could apply what we learned to the business world. The major itself is hands-on and has more of a real life/project-based approach. We also went out of our way in terms of recruiting by sponsoring high school competitions and with the Women In Technology student organization holding events and information sessions specifically for women. We were more accommodating and inclusionary and as a result, I think we were able to be more diverse. Simply put, diversity doesn’t just happen – you have to take initiative. (And just as an FYI, the smartest person in our MIS graduating class was a girl who ended up working as an auditor for one of the Big Four.)
Alright, I’m off my soapbox. If I had a point, it would probably be you can’t play to one demographic in any discipline (I guess even if it’s something as simple and subliminal as your surroundings).
So basically it seems like rather then spending money figuring out what decor may or may not attract certain underrepresented demographics, they should try to figure out how to proactively attract such groups. Seems simple enough.
What?! A room full of Star Trek posters would turn me on. Especially a giant Uhuru poster. Sign me up for CompSci.
I would feel like it would be more likely to turn off other dudes, right? Like I would feel comforted by a room of Star Trek posters, which is just me, but you know.
The article explains so little. I have so many questions. Like, if they changed the program from computer science to psych or poli sci would they have gotten the same responses from women? And why do the other 215 women mentioned prefer non-geeky space? What is wrong with them? I do not know and I want to know.
So speaking of Star Trek, my first gay date ever in my entire life was with a woman who invited me to afterwards attend a Star Trek party with her (uniforms included!). She withdrew her invitation however when I asked if there would be any live Klingon sex performances. WTF, right? It was just that I thought Klingon sex being badass was a great conversation topic for a first date. Maybe like my date the women in the study weren’t down with how badass Klingon sex is AND that is why they decided to hate on computer science.
Perhaps it’s just that geek girls are cooler than geek guys and because we’ve all been taught on various levels that geeky stuff is for dudes, even the geeky ladies take the posters and comics as a cue that geeky dudes will soon arrive. So it’s not the presence of geeky things but geeky men that turns them off of computer science.
Or maybe I’m just projecting my own lesbian love of hot geek girls onto the population as a whole.
Everyone has raised some interesting questions, do let us know if any of you happen to read the actual study. :D
they should have tricked out the room with syfy channel battlestar galactica posters. just sayin’… :)
hellz yea i’d be all up in that room. except it’s just like my existing bedroom prob
can anyone access this link?
i tracked it down but i had to login with some science magic and wanted to see if everyone could see it?
articles summing up psych research (prob any research, though psych/neural science is me experteeze!) are always inadequate and usually pick out the fact or two that they determine to be significant, so reading the full journal write up, as painful as it can be on occasion, is the way to go! it’s hard to know anything about the study based on what that write up has so i’ll try to put a better one up on here if folks would want that!
…also, if people are interested in research about gender stereotypes, i have a whole world of cool articles from some past researchery days i could link on here- i didn’t figure anyone would want that…and that it might make them cry/not read technostraddle!
That would be great! Link, link, link! I cannot promise not to cry (because everything makes me cry, it is a bit weird and socially awkward at times) but I can promise not to stop reading technostraddle!
oops…this is the better link:
I’m less interested in computer science after being in a room of Star Trek memorabilia because I’m busy imagining Spock’s double-glans hitting the back of Kirk’s throat.
also, I have the flu and am getting my kicks by clicking “related posts” on various pieces and commenting, despite being 10 months late. Apparently.