References to Star Wars, Star Trek, and other science fiction super fandom among those in the tech industry is way too masculine and exclusive of women, says a librarian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Chris Bourg, who describes herself as a cis woman who is “butch and queer” and been “misidentified too many times to ignore,” said the geek culture in the tech industry needs to stop so that more women are attracted to STEM fields.
“There is research that shows that workplaces that are plastered with stereotypically ‘tech or nerd guy’ cultural images – think Star Trek – have negative impact on women’s likelihood of pursuing tech work and of staying in tech work in general or in that particular work environment,” Bourg said. “Replace the Star Trek posters with travel posters, don’t name your projects or your printers or your domains after only male figures from Greek mythology, and just generally avoid geek references and inside nerd jokes. Those kinds of things reinforce the stereotypes about who does tech; and that stereotype is the male nerd stereotype.”
Apparently, Bourg has never seen cosplay before, which is very popular among women who love their nerdy stuff just as much as the guys. She’s too busy examining a 2009 study called “Ambient Belonging: How Stereotypical Cues Impact Gender Participation in Computer Science.” That’s where she got the idea of replacing Star Trek posters with travel posters. The study suggests other styles of posters, like nature or art, and also placing “general purpose books and magazines” around the office instead of, say, books on the schematics of the Millennium Falcon.
It’s not just geek culture that bugs Bourg, but the toxic masculinity that comes with it. That includes “mansplaining,” and of course, “whitesplaining.”
“What I mean is simply this — if you have some power and privilege in a situation (and if you are white and/or a dude, chances are you do have some privilege; if you are a white dude, you definitely have power and privilege), then for the love of baby unicorns please refrain from giving your unsolicited advice and opinions to others,” Bourg said, excluding all other mythical creatures.
Somewhere in all of this is a cyBourg joke, but I'd hate to offend this woman with my nerdsplaining.
H/T The College Fix