Misleading Perceptions About Who Is Capable of Computer Science Careers

Many computer science pioneers were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science grew faster than the number of men. In 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science plunged to the level it is today. So what happened? As a teen in the 80's, I recall computer science movies like War Games and Weird Science dominating the screen with leading male actors. As teen girls, we largely acknowledged them as nerds or underdogs. We rooted for them, but we didn’t want to be them.

Flash forward to today. Google just released a new report conducted by Gallup sug­gesting that stereotypes per­petu­ated by TV and movies foster mis­lead­ing per­cep­tions about who is cap­able of pursuing careers in computer sci­ence. Furthermore it shows that girls are less likely to consider careers only portrayed as a haven for geeky boys.

Certainly our unconscious bias paired with the media, pop culture, and the entertainment industry all contribute to perceptions and pursuits of girls in computer science. Next week is Computer Science Education Week from December 7-13, 2015. How will you help change these perceptions and encourage the next generation to pursue computer science skills so needed for many of the fastest growing careers?




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Melissa RisteffComment