Despite increased knowledge about gender (in) equality,7,27,38 women in STEM disciplines are still portrayed in stereotypical ways in the popular media. We have reviewed academic research, along with mainstream media quotes and images for depictions of women in STEM and women in computing/IT. We found their personality and identity formation continues to be influenced by the personas and stereotypes associated with role images seen in the media. This, in turn, can affect women's underrepresentation and career participation, as well as prospects for advancement in computing fields. The computer science Degree Hub15 in 2014 published its list of the 30 most influential, living computer scientists, weighing leadership, applicability, awards, and recognition as selection criteria. The list included only one female, Sophie Wilson, a British computer scientist best known for designing the Acorn Micro-Computer, the first computer sold by Acorn Computers Ltd. in 1978. A fellow elected to the prestigious Royal Society, Wilson is today the Director of IC Design at Broadcom Inc. in Cambridge, U.K., listed as number 30 of the 30 on the list.
In 2018, girls and women are getting the message they belong in computer science as much as boys and men, thanks to a greater push for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curricula in schools and a vast number of programs available to them outside of school. Yet the numbers remain discouraging. Although computer science jobs are projected to grow 15% to 20% through 2020, the majority of these positions will be pursued and filled by men, according to Women in Computer Science (WiCS). In 2016, 26% of professional computing jobs in the U.S. workforce were held by women; 20% of the Fortune 100 chief information officer (CIO) positions were held by women, and 23% of Advanced Placement (AP) computer science test takers were female, based on data from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). "As STEM-related industries on a whole add over 1.7 million jobs in the coming years, there continues to be a notable absence of women in the field," according to the WiCS website.
The uphill climb for minorities in the technology industry has been well-documented. The same goes for the challenges and underrepresentation that women in technology face. For women of color, the environment can be doubly challenging. The headlines suggest that my black female peers in technology and I will not only encounter gender stereotyping, but also the cultural biases that too often pervade work environments that are historically, primarily white. Women represent 26% of computing professionals and only 12% of professional engineers, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Imagine the most extreme stereotypes about computer scientists: They're socially awkward indoor kids. They have an obsessive focus on technology and a closet full of rumpled hoodies. Cultural perceptions about who is a computer scientist -- or an engineer or a physicist -- are a big reason why women are still underrepresented in certain science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle. "The assumptions about what it takes to be a good computer scientist or engineer are very narrow," said Sapna Cheryan, a UW psychology professor and lead author of a study published this week in the journal Psychological Bulletin. "If you have narrow stereotypes, then it's going to end up attracting a more narrow band of people, including a narrow band of men," she told Mashable.