Children’s Implicit and Explicit Stereotypes on the Gender, Social Skills, and Interests of a Computer Scientist

Shirley de de Wit, Felienne Hermans, Efthimia Aivaloglou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Motivation Only 27% of computer and mathematical scientists in the United States and 18% of IT specialists in Europe are women. The under-representation of women in the field of Computer Science is, among other things, influenced by stereotypes of computer scientists. These stereotypes include being male, asocial and having an (obsessive) interest in computers. Even though stereotypical beliefs can develop at an early age, research on children’s stereotypes of computer scientists is sparse and inconclusive. Objectives Stereotypes we hold can be implicit or unconscious beliefs, or explicit or conscious beliefs. In this study, we focus on children’s implicit and explicit stereotypes regarding computer scientists’ gender, social skills and interests. We also study whether explaining what a computer scientist does affects these stereotypes. Method We study the implicit stereotypes through the reduced-length Child Implicit Association Test and the explicit stereotypes through self-reported absolute and relative Likert scale questions. We gathered data on 564 children between the age of 7 and 18 who were visiting a science museum. The participants in the experiment group (n=352) watch a video of either a man or woman explaining what a computer scientist does at the start of the study. Results We found weak implicit stereotypical beliefs on computer scientists’ social skills and moderate implicit stereotypical beliefs on computer scientists’ interests. We also found explicit stereotypes on computer scientists’ gender, social skills and interests. Measuring the effects of the intervention, we found significant differences between the control and experiment group in their explicit stereotypes on computer scientists’ social skills. Discussion The amount of scientific work on children’s stereotypes regarding computer scientists is still limited. Applying the reduced-length Child Implicit Association Test to measure children’s stereotypes on computer scientists has, to our knowledge, not been done before. Understanding children’s stereotypes and how to tackle them contributes to closing the gender gap in Computer Science.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
EditorsAmy J. Ko, Jan Vahrenhold, Renée McCauley, Matthias Hauswirth
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages239–251
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781450383264
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021
Event17th ACM conference on international computing education research: ICER 2021 - Online, United States
Duration: 16 Aug 202119 Aug 2021
https://icer2021.acm.org/

Conference

Conference17th ACM conference on international computing education research
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Period16/08/2119/08/21
Internet address

Keywords

  • stereotypes
  • gender
  • computer scientist
  • programmer
  • social skills

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