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.
Children in the US are equating the jobs of scientists with women more than ever before, a study has found. Researchers at Northwestern University have concluded that children's stereotypical views linking men to scientists might have shrunk over the past five decades. They analyzed 50 years worth of children's artwork depicting scientists for the study, which encompassed the views of upwards of 20,000 children in the US. The new study marks the first time'Draw-A-Scientist' literature has been systematically reviewed. 'Draw-A-Scientist' literature is based on what children produce when they are asked to create an illustration of their idea of a scientist.
A new study found that young U.S. girls are less likely than boys to believe their own gender is the most brilliant. While all 5-year-olds tended to believe that members of their own gender were geniuses, by age 6 that preference had diminished for girls -- a difference the researchers attributed to the influence of gender stereotypes. "We found it surprising, and also very heartbreaking, that even kids at such a young age have learned these stereotypes," said Lin Bian, the study's co-author and a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A girl looks through a microscope during the 2016 Russian Festival of Science in Moscow. "It's possible that in the long run, the stereotypes will push young women away from the jobs that are perceived as requiring brilliance, like being a scientist or an engineer," she told Mashable.
It is often said that women are absent from the sciences. But this is not true. Although a gender gap remains in the sciences overall, the gap is closing. Women are now more likely than men to earn undergraduate degrees in biology, and they are almost as likely as men to earn undergraduate degrees in chemistry and math. There are, however, several scientific disciplines that women are still much less likely than men to choose to study: computer science, engineering and physics.
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.