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The Stereotypes, Identity and Belonging Lab at the University of Washington is now a member of the blogging community! We will be using Decoded as a forum for disseminating our research on women and computer science and discussing current issues related to the field of computer science including: women's involvement and how computer science is changing the way we live. We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on our posts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Social Network: Defying Computer Science Stereotypes?

Recently, I saw the much talked about movie “The Social Network”. Like many Facebook users, I was curious about the creation of Facebook and the drama surrounding it. The movie depicts computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg’s rapid transformation from an anti-social geek to the wealthy founder of the largest social networking site in the world.

While the movie as a whole is compelling, I think it is especially interesting how Mark Zuckerberg’s character simultaneously reinforces and defies stereotypes about computer programmers.

On the one hand, he is portrayed as a socially awkward loner who vents his frustration via computer coding and blogging. He isn't invited to the popular clubs. He is very tech-savvy and intelligent, confidently projecting his ideas and opinions with rapid speaking. 

On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg’s character also defies what it means to be a computer programmer. After creating Facebook, his popularity suddenly skyrockets. Women practically throw themselves at him, members of elite clubs want to be his business partners, and he gains a sort of bad boy reputation through his trouble making at Harvard and lawsuits with rivals. Ultimately, we get to see how many layers there really are to Mark Zuckerberg. 

Do you find Mark Zuckerberg a good computer science role model? Does his character defy the stereotypes?

Posted by: Lauren

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Young Girls and Computer Science

Dot Diva, an exciting new national initiative aimed at high school girls, is on a mission to create a positive new image for computer science.  The initiative is striving to change perceptions of the field, emphasizing the positive impact that can be made on the world through computer science.  One look at the website, www.dotdiva.org, and it is clear that Dot Diva is working hard to create a fresh image for computer science. 

A national survey conducted by Dot Diva revealed high school girls perceptions of computing;  “as ‘boring’ and ‘hard,’ but they believe it fails to deliver two crucial benefits: ‘working with others’ and ‘making a difference in other people's lives’." This perception of computer science is what has inspired this initiative to work on changing this image.  “Our ultimate goal is to transform this negative perception.”   Dot Diva is working toward this goal by stressing the diversity of opportunities in computer science, the power to make a difference in the world, and the high salary and demand in the field. 

As Dot Diva’s mission statement says, “We’re young women with the power and passion to make a difference.  We believe in the potential of computing to build a better world.”  By reaching out to young women across the country the initiative is spreading its passion for computer science.  Check out Dot Diva’s website to see for yourself how they are putting their passion to work, how to join the Dot Diva community, and be sure not to miss the webisode featuring two young talented female computer scientists.  Let us know what you think about this exiting new initiative!

Dot Diva

Posted by: Ben