A new study suggests that yes, Star Trek may contribute to the gender gap found in the field of computer science. The reason seems to be that it reinforces the stereotype that computer scientists are nerdy losers:
“What this research shows is that the image of computer science — this geeky, masculine image — can make women feel like they don’t belong,” says lead author Sapna Cheryan of the University of Washington.
I would also personally put the show The Big Bang Theory on the list of shows discouraging women from getting into science, because from the limited viewing I’ve seen, the show blatantly reinforces these outdated gender stereotypes.
Fortunately, it looks like the culture is changing and being nerdy and geeky are becoming the thing more and more people actually aspire to, especially women as it’s becoming more and more widely known that men dig nerdy or geeky women, especially hot, nerdy or geeky women. In fact, as George Hrab points out in his song, “brainsbodyboth,” a woman who’s both smart and sexy is a pretty unbeatable combination. And of course the women at Skepchick are doing a great job of promoting a positive image of smart women.
Intelligence is sexy.