Settings support or refute stereotypes

December 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm 3 comments

Professor Sapna Cheryan led her student into a small classroom in Stanford University’s computer science building. Star Wars posters adorned the walls, discarded computer parts and cans of Coke clustered on a table, and a life-size bust of Spock perched on the desk. “Sorry about the mess,” Cheryan said. “Just ignore that stuff, it’s not part of our study. Here’s your questionnaire. Let me know when you’re done.”

The student took a dubious look at her surroundings and raised her pencil to answer the question: “How interested are you in computer science?”

Cheryan, now a psychologist at the University of Washington, has placed students in situations like this for nearly five years. She has found that women rate themselves as less interested in computer science than men in the “geek room” described above. But in a room decorated more neutrally with art posters, nature photos, and water bottles, their interest levels were about the same.

via Science Notes 2009.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Darrin Thompson  |  December 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I wonder what should happen if they asked how interested the women were in something women traditionally like?

    Reply
  • 2. Alan Kay  |  December 3, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Check out the pioneering work of Covington and Crutchfield at Berkeley ca the 60s. They did many studies showing strong influences via the environment in many kinds of thinking and deciding. I wonder if this got referenced in the Washington study.

    Cheers,

    Alan

    Reply
  • […] 19, 2009 That study about how environment can influence stereotypes has really attracted attention!  It’s showing up all over the Internet.  I was just […]

    Reply

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