Friday, February 20, 2009

Breaking the Geek Myth

For this weeks blog I chose to review the article, "Breaking the Geek Myth", by Katie A. Siek, Kay Connelly, Amanda Stephano, Suzanne Menzel, Jacki Bauer, and Beth Plale. This article discusses the perceptions of geeks and those interested in technology and also the decline of women persuing degrees in computer science. The authors first list some of the ideas originally held by current computer science women professors and students. They had all believed that computing was nonsocial, requiring a high degree of intellect and knowledge and that most of the computer people were geeks. It was only after entering college and discovering the truth about this field that they changed their perceptions and their majors.
The authors discuss a program they put together to get younger students, those in middle and high schools, interested in computer science. They travel to schools and through their interactive program are able to address the stereotypes that most teens have regarding those interested in science, specifically computers. The series of photographs presented to the students is designed to break down any barriers by presenting many different computer scientists in different, non-work situations, such as rock climbing, to show the students that computer scientists do not fit tightly into one category of race or gender. There is also a section in the presentation describing what a computer scientist might actually do for work. The ideas range from computer animation to medical technology. This serves to broaden the student's minds regarding the applications of computers. Overall, I felt that both the article and the program serve to highlight how narrow thinking can limit opportunities.

Q1. What do you believe is a good way to bring in more students, male and female, to the computer science programs?
A1. By bringing the presentation to schools, the authors are able to educate students about the various types of work available in computer science, and also to dispel any stereotypes regarding computer scientists.

Q2. Are there other programs available besides Just Be from the Women in Computing, from Indiana University?
A2. Presentations are also given by the following universities: Carnegie Melon University (CMU) Women at School of Computer Science Roadshow, Simon Fraser University’s Computer Science Presentation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Women in Computer Science’s Chictech.

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