Geeks and Women
Despite some emerging attempts to give women more space within technological sciences, there's little progress achieved. Articles such as “100 hottest women in IT” are not particularly helpful either.
There is not much logic in the current situation as women were pioneers in the field of information technology, especially programming and they contributed to the development of computer science in a significant way. So when did it all change and why is it this days completely acceptable to believe that women are just not into technology and science?
In her newest book: “Delusions of Gender” Cordelia Fine examines findings of Washington psychologist Sapha Cheryan about the effects of popular male representations, e.g. a geek. She argues that effect of such representation decrease women's interest in science as it leaves them little space for self-identification.
A stereotype of a geek was strengthened by concrete examples in real life that started emerging in the 80's and have today claimed their space also within popular culture (e.g. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, The IT crowd series, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory etc.).
The stereotype of a geek started representing somehow nerdy male figure with glasses, who is into science-fiction and video games and takes little interest in things like healthy life style, social life or personal hygiene. It is not very difficult to imagine why women didn't identify with such representations.
R.W. Connell concludes in her book “Gender” that gendered division of labour occupations will lead to a division in educational institutions which will prepare people for this work. This is also evident in the socialization of young girls and boys, who are learning since the early age to perceive the world and their role in it. Boys mostly through being encouraged to explore many technologically advanced and complex toys, while girls unfortunately mostly still through playing with dolls that require changing dippers, dressing up or putting on make up.
So any educational institution that advertises it's technological and science studies by reproducing stereotypical and male dominated images is most likely not going to encourage many women to sign in. To make things even more difficult for those women who are in the IT and managed to get some recognition, general interest in them is mostly not focused on their skills, but their looks.
If we want more women in technology, then we will have to clean up with the stereotypes about geeks/nerds and create a space where more people will be able to identify on the basis of their interests, not gender.