- A new study concludes that stereotypes about computer scientists and engineers — that they are white or Asian males who are socially inept and obsessed with technology and science fiction — prevent women from studying in those fields.
- The University of Washington study also reports that if those stereotypes are “broadened” and the image of who can be successful in those fields is diversified, more females could be attracted to the computer and engineering professions, Campus Technology reports.
- The study points to computer science departments at Carnegie Mellon University and Harvey Mudd College as examples of schools that have increased their proportion of women in computer science majors by 10% to 40% over five years by changing recruitment approaches, using diverse role models, and modifying introductory courses.
Producers of the new MacGyver are using the same concept with their casting of a woman as the new lead. The University of Washington study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, found that students use images when making choices about where they will be successful, and the environment also plays a role — even with online courses. Students are also drawn to computer science and engineering because of stereotypes, which is why the study suggests that stereotypes should be diversified instead of overhauled, which could also deter some students.