Does Star Trek stop women from becoming computer scientists?

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

That's the conclusion of a new study, according to Wired magazine:

New research published in the December Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that the stereotype of computer scientists as unwashed nerds may be partially responsible for the dearth of women in the field, as shown by National Science Foundation statistics.
"What this research shows is that the image of computer science—this geeky, masculine image—can make women feel like they don't belong," says lead author Sapna Cheryan of the University of Washington. ...

Cheryan and colleagues tested this idea by alternately decorating a computer science classroom with objects that earlier surveys pegged as stereotypically geeky—Star Trek posters, video games and comic books—or with objects that the surveys found to be neutral—coffee mugs, plants and art posters.

Women who spent time in the geek room reported less interest in computer science than did women who saw the neutral room, the study found. For male students, the decor made no difference. (Wouldn't they like the Trek stuff more? We would, but that's just us.)

What about all the hot female computer scientists in Star Trek? Maybe they got a bad sample of women: no sci-fi fans.

What do you think of this study?

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