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Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Girls Allowed

This crap again:

The stereotype of computer scientists as geeks who memorize Star Trek lines and never leave the lab may be driving women away from the field, a new study suggests.

I suggest that the sort of women who are likely to be completely turned off by that aren't the sort of women who are likely to take up computers as a career anyway.

At our weekly staff meetings there's bound to be at least one Star Trek quote. This week it was, "Excuse me, where are the nuclear wessels?" Once it was "There are four lights!"

(For the record, we are not computer scientists, but real scientists -- except for the ones who are engineers.)

Me, my boss, and his boss occasionally play ¿Quién es más geeko? I frequently win. (See what I did there? I keep a file where I store the special characters necessary for the accents. If your computer doesn't have the fonts, they may look weird. Geeky and pedantic!)

Many years ago, two of my female scientific colleagues were asked to go to a school to show girls what a female scientist looked like. I read about it in the paper a few days later. Someone was saying how good this was, because "Girls have this image of a scientist as someone very nerdy, and out comes this woman in a nice dress." I thought, honey, if a girl is scared out of a scientific career by the idea that she won't get to wear a "nice dress," she doesn't belong there in the first place. You have to have more mental toughness than that, and more dedication.

(The amusing thing was...they did indeed wear their nice dresses. And their high heels. And the one asked to represent the physics department was an undergraduate in her first year, if I recall. She once refused to clean out a test tube because the acetone would ruin her nail job. She switched to the education department the next year.

I, with a Master's at the time, was not asked, possibly because I did not look nearly as good in a nice dress and high heels. Way to empower, ladies!)

But back to the article:

"When people think of computer science, the image that immediately pops into many of their minds is of the computer geek surrounded by such things as computer games, science-fiction memorabilia and junk food,"

Seriously? Scared off by junk food? Are they forcing the junk food down your throat? Does the science fiction memorabilia consist of Frank Frazetta's near-naked chicks? Really? You know, those are worth some money.

"That stereotype doesn't appeal to many women who don't like the portrait of masculinity that it evokes."

Let's pause here to gasp in wonder and amazement at the juxtaposition of the phrases "computer science", "science fiction", "video games", "junk food", and "portrait of masculinity". When you guys were being stuffed into your lockers by the jocks, I bet you never thought you'd be held up as a "portrait of masculinity", eh?

In the first experiment, about 40 male and female students entered a small classroom that either contained objects stereotypically associated with computer science, such as Star Trek posters, video game boxes and Coke cans...

Really? Coke cans?? I'd have probably been wondering how I could kipe some of the posters. (Hmm, 1977 original Burger King Luke Skywalker poster?? Nah, got one.)

Somewhere, there's an office where work halts while the other workers describe in detail their dates, their clothes, and the cyooot thing their kid did. I won't be working there. Wouldn't fit in.

Now, I really have to go. I gotta bake Christmas cookies tonight. (No, really.)