Could the media’s bland stereotype of nerdy women be the reason why females are so underrepresented in technology careers?
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Research shows that women represent “57 percent of all undergraduate degrees, 42 percent of all undergraduate math and statistics degrees, 40 percent of all undergraduate physical sciences degrees, but only 18 percent of all undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees.” The female population seems to be making strides in the “S,” “E,” and “M” categories, but what about the “T?”
The media’s influence on society (especially younger generations) has definitely played its part in exasperating the stereotypes of female nerds, often portraying them as awkward and undesirable. The popular CBS “geek” show, The Big Bang Theory, has gotten much flack for its blatant sexism in depicting “sexy” and “nerdy” as two mutually exclusive things for its female characters (and women in general).
It’s not just CBS that is adding fuel to the fire; most of Hollywood is following suit, too. As Doug Barry points out on Jezebel, “the ratio of men to women in computer science or engineering roles is 5.4 to 1 for primetime television,” which suggest that such careers should be left to the men on and off screen.
What’s the solution, then? Better representations of women in STEM careers, including tech, in the media, as well as better education for women on the benefits of tech careers. The tech world needs you, ladies! Don’t believe us? Take a look at the numbers in PayScale’s College Salary Report.
Leveling the playing field (gender-wise) in tech-related careers won’t happen overnight. However, as Barry points out, “movies could use a few more Lisbeth Salanders” — and fewer dowdy girl geeks.
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