Study: Geeks Keep The Girls Away From Tech Jobs

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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.


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