Study: Geeks Keep The Girls Away From Tech Jobs

By Ed Orum

Women steer clear from jobs in tech because they imagine their lives would be like a bad episode of TV's "The Big Bang Theory." Whether that's true doesn't necessarily matter - the stereotypes of geeky guys in science and tech is enough to dissuade women from pursuing a career in computer science.

That's the conclusion of researcher Sapna Cheryan, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and perhaps why only 22 percent of computer science grads are women.

The study examined common "geek" stereotypes in the workplace, and how women react to them. Students entered two rooms: one was filled with the stuff you might find in a dot-com cubicle - Star Trek posters, video game boxes and energy drinks; the other held your typical office trinkets, including nature posters, coffee mugs and a dictionary.

When asked about their attitudes towards computer science, the women seemed significantly less interested in making a career out of it when they were in the geeky paradise compared to the standard office.

Researchers concluded that women feel like they might not fit into the science field because they often associate it with late night coding sessions and introverted geeks who only speak in gibberish. Qualities they don't necessarily see in themselves.

The solution? Make computer-types seem less geeky, so women feel more of a connection to the field. Something tells me the professor is on to something, and the scientist stereotypes perpetuated in movies and TV shows like "Big Bang" aren't helping.


Next: High School Geek, Jock or Class Clown? >>


Ed Orum

Editor

Ed is a journalist who has worked for some of the largest mediaorganizations in the U.S.His career has taken him to places big andsmall across the nation. With experience at various employers, Ed'scareer has run the gamut - he's been hired, been the one doing thehiring, quit and, most recently, laid off for the first time.Thankfully, Ed has never been fired, although many years ago he oncecame close while working part-time at a pizza place - turns out it wasa misunderstanding.

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joe

o wow lol those geeks need to take those things that steer women away or theyll end up single forever and women who want to get into that carrer should not be afriad or steered away just becuz a few geeks run the show

January 25 2010 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew Ward

I think I agree with this to a large extent. I study computer science myself and the number of young women on the course is very low. I also think it could have something to do with the way men and women are different. I don't mean this in a sexist way, I mean in terms of preferences that are almost genetic. This goes back to the whole idea that women can multi task whereas men find it easier to concentrate on a single task. Computer program is a very single-task-focus activity, and maybe this has something to do with it.

December 25 2009 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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