DESPITE INCREASED KNOWLEDGE about gender (in)
equality, 7, 27, 38 women in STEM disciplines are still
portrayed in stereotypical ways in the popular media.
We have reviewed academic research, along with
mainstream media quotes and images for depictions
of women in STEM and women in computing/IT.
We found their personality and identity formation
continues to be influenced by the personas and
stereotypes associated with role images seen
in the media. This, in turn, can affect women’s
underrepresentation and career participation, as well
as prospects for advancement in computing fields.
The computer science Degree Hub15 in 2014
published its list of the 30 most influential, living
computer scientists, weighing leader-
ship, applicability, awards, and recog-
nition as selection criteria. The list in-
cluded only one female, Sophie Wilson,
a British computer scientist best known
for designing the Acorn Micro-Com-
puter, the first computer sold by Acorn
Computers Ltd. in 1978. A fellow elect-
ed to the prestigious Royal Society, Wil-
son is today the Director of IC Design
at Broadcom Inc. in Cambridge, U.K.,
listed as number 30 of the 30 on the list.
Several other observations are no-
table about the list. The other 29 are all
male, with one from Mexico—Miguel
de Icaza—and one from Japan—Yuki-
hiro Matsumoto. In general, 15 of the
30 at the time worked in industry, at
major tech organizations, including
Dropbox, Facebook, Microsoft, Pay-
Pal, and Google. Others were academic
scholars, along with several entrepre-
neurs. However, women tend to seek
alternatives to traditional computing/
I T industry and academic careers by es-
tablishing IT-related or entrepreneur-
ial venues. 38, 40 Nonetheless, the fact re-
mains that with only one female on the
list and one male from a traditionally
underrepresented majority minority
country does communicate as to who
influences, controls, and ultimately is
expected to participate in computing.
Computing awards and recognitions
often seem to derive from the well-
recognized relationship between mas-
culinity and technology, particularly in
terms of what are considered technical
skills and masculine identity. 2, 7 Such
acknowledgments in the media often
function as an unofficial recruitment
policy, influencing academic and ca-
A positive image would inspire the capable
but underrepresented who might otherwise
give up on computing.
BY FAY COBB PAYTON AND ELENI BERKI
˽ The lack of sustained gender and ethnic
participation persists in computing.
˽ Media images produce mental
models of who participates and
what participation even looks like.
˽ One common image is that men can
be ordinary while women must be
exceptional, and women of color
must be better than exceptional.