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.

Related Articles


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 April 18, 2015 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 April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WikiLeaks Refuses To Let Sony Hack Die, Posts Database

WikiLeaks Refuses To Let Sony Hack Die, Posts Database

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) WikiLeaks&apos; Julian Assange says the hacked emails and documents "belong in the public domain." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) American scientists build a self-powering camera that captures images without using an external power source, allowing it to operate indefinitely in a well-lit environment. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The State Of Virtual Reality

The State Of Virtual Reality

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Virtual Reality is still a young industry. What’s on offer and what should we expect from our immersive new future? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cybercrime Could Cost $400 Bln

Cybercrime Could Cost $400 Bln

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2015) Representatives from around 160 countries gather at the Hague to discuss cyber space and cyber security, including the dilemmas and challenges regarding the evolution of the internet. Ciara Lee 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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