Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Nerdy' mold needs breaking to recruit women into computer science

Date:
June 24, 2013
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
The 'computer nerd' is a well-known stereotype. While this stereotype is inaccurate, it still has a chilling effect on women pursuing a qualification in computer science, according to a new article. However, when this image is downplayed in the print media, women express more interest in further education in computer science.

The 'computer nerd' is a well-known stereotype in our modern society. While this stereotype is inaccurate, it still has a chilling effect on women pursuing a qualification in computer science, according to a new paper by Sapna Cheryan from the University of Washington in the US, and colleagues. However, when this image is downplayed in the print media, women express more interest in further education in computer science. The work is published online in Springer's journal, Sex Roles.

Despite years of effort, it has proven difficult to recruit women into many fields that are perceived to be masculine and male-dominated, including computer science. The image of a lone computer scientist, concerned only with technology, is in stark contrast to a more people-oriented or traditionally feminine image. Understanding what prevents women from entering computer science is key to achieving gender parity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Cheryan and team sought to prove that the shortage of women in computer science and other scientific fields is not only due to a lack of interest in the subject matter on the part of women. In a first study, 293 college students from two US West Coast universities were asked to provide descriptions of computer science majors. The authors wanted to discover what the stereotypical computer scientist looks like in students' minds.

Both women and men spontaneously offered an image of computer scientists as technology-oriented, intensely focused on computers, intelligent and socially unskilled. These characteristics contrast with the female gender role, and are inconsistent with how many women see themselves.

The way a social group is represented in the media also influences how people think about that group and their relation to it. In a second study, the researchers manipulated the students' images of a computer scientist, using fabricated newspaper articles, to examine the influence of these media on women's interest in entering the field. A total of 54 students read articles about computer science majors that described these students as either fitting, or not fitting, the current stereotype. Students were then asked to rate their interest in computer science.

Exposure to a newspaper article claiming that computer science majors no longer fit current preconceived notions increased women's interest in majoring in computer science. These results were in comparison to those of exposure to a newspaper article claiming that computer science majors do indeed reflect the stereotype. Men, however, were unaffected by how computer science majors were represented.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sapna Cheryan, Victoria C. Plaut, Caitlin Handron, Lauren Hudson. The Stereotypical Computer Scientist: Gendered Media Representations as a Barrier to Inclusion for Women. Sex Roles, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s11199-013-0296-x

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "'Nerdy' mold needs breaking to recruit women into computer science." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130624141414.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2013, June 24). 'Nerdy' mold needs breaking to recruit women into computer science. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130624141414.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "'Nerdy' mold needs breaking to recruit women into computer science." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130624141414.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Earnings Put Smile on Investors Faces

Facebook Earnings Put Smile on Investors Faces

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Facebook earnings beat forecasts- with revenue climbing 61 percent. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins