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Does Star Trek Stop Women from Becoming Scientists? December 22, 2009

by Kayla Iacovino , Filed under: Editorial,Science/Technology,Trek Franchise , trackback

A new study published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that Star Trek may be partly responsible for widening the gender gap in computer science careers. Their findings imply that nerdy stereotypes associated with Star Trek and computer science may dissuade women from joining that field. As a woman of science who was largely inspired by Star Trek, I have a few doubts about the study’s findings. Read on and find out why.

 

The Study
Statistics from the National Science Foundation show that men dominate the field of computer science, and Sapna Cheryan of the University of Washington, lead author of this study, wanted to find out if nerdy stereotypes were to blame. In the study, groups of students were placed into two different kinds of rooms set up as computer science classrooms: The first kind was neutrally decorated with coffee mugs, plants, and art posters; The second was geeked-out with Star Trek posters, video games, and comic books. The students were all given a questionnaire asking if they would want to go into the computer science field. The results showed that the women of the group were less likely to choose a computer science career if they had been in the Star Trek room, while men showed no change.


I, for one, would love to have this as my work environment!

The Results and Interpretation: Is this a real effect?
The researchers performing this study came to the conclusion that nerdy stereotypes associated with Star Trek and its nerdy connections to computer science careers would serve to dissuade women from becoming computer scientists. Is this a real result? As a woman who was inspired by Star Trek to go into science, I have my doubts. I was personally inspired by Star Trek at a young, impressionable age, well before I was able to form any kind of stereotypes about “nerds”. Star Trek is a sci-fi show that empowers women in science and technology careers. Ever since the Original Series, Gene Roddenberry’s vision was to create a future world where people no longer saw others as a stereotype, be it for race, religion, gender, or even species!

Tell Your Story!
I want to hear your point of view on this study. Do you think Star Trek stops women from entering science or computer science careers? I know that Star Trek and other science fiction shows and movies have inspired a lot of men and women to become scientists. Did it inspire you? What is your story?


Star Trek inspired us to become women of science and technology. What’s your story?

Links and Sources

WIRED Science article on this study

NSF Statistics on Gender in Science

 


Comments

1. boborci - December 22, 2009

Interesting.

2. boborci - December 22, 2009

We’ll have to have Uhura get her second Ph.D in computer science!

3. S. John Ross - December 22, 2009

I think Star Trek inspires the sort of people it’s meant to inspire, and I think anyone “dissuaded” by it would have been dissuaded by other elements as well. And in real life, people don’t generally decide their career paths by visiting a random workplace, checking out the decor, and deciding “yeah, that’s the kind of coffee mug I want to work near.” There’s no hint of legitimate causation here.

4. Cobalt 1365 - December 22, 2009

Now I’m a guy, but Star Trek certainly has helped influence me to becoming an Engineer. I think I can understand the study’s conclusion, however it seems to be a sort of second-hand influence. The Trek-like surroundings feel geeky, and the girls don’t want to be geeky, so they check ‘no’ on the computer science careers. I think the overarching message of the study is that many people still view Star Trek as ‘geeky’ and probably always will.

I like in the study how the guys didn’t really care :)

5. Cobalt 1365 - December 22, 2009

Well boborci, she was shown a couple times in the original series elbow, neck and torso-deep inside the electronics. She must have been a whiz with the equipment, too

6. Anthony Pascale - December 22, 2009

great article Kayla

And Bob….is that a spoiler?

7. Sybok's Secret Brother - December 22, 2009

I don’t buy it either, Kayla. At first glance, this does not seem to be a very scientific study. Perhaps the wonen in the study were more influnced by the colors or another factor. They way it is set up does not seem very controlled…

8. Lieutenant - December 22, 2009

I, too, was inspired to want to become a scientist after being introduced into Star Trek, and I am still practically a kid. I have never done better in school than now because of motivating myself with inspirations like the characters in Star Trek. I think anyone not wanting to work in a certain profession because it might appear as “geeky” is acting dumb and thoughtless. I thought one of the points of Star trek was that any one, male or female, could work as anything they wanted without sexism or racism. I guess now all they care about is being judged as a ”geek”.

9. Sybok's Secret Brother - December 22, 2009

or even the Women… I cannot type…

10. Matches Malone - December 22, 2009

I’m guessing it goes to what your entry point into Trek was. If you’re a classic guy like me, I could see how this conclusion would be drawn, however, the TNG types will probably have a different attitude.

There’s also something here about how maybe some of the women didn’t want to sleep with the captain to advance their careers, but that’s purely idle speculation :)

11. CmdrR - December 22, 2009

Bob — now you can write a focused article on how JJ’s Trekverse is female-friendly. (And I don’t mean that the way Kirk would mean it.)

Great stuff as always, Kayla!

12. AJ - December 22, 2009

“Star Trek” doesn’t “stop” anyone from doing anything. The female main characters are generally highly intelligent, empowered individuals excelling and content in their chosen paths.

It may be the cliched view of Trek fandom which does the damage. Popular culture makes Trekkers look ugly, deluded, naive and stupid. If you’ve read over these threads the past few years, many posters are afraid to let their Trek flag fly in public because they feel the backlash will be too great.

Maybe the new film series will help to change that.

As for me, I am a man, and Trek inspired me to study other languages and cultures. I have spent the bulk of the last 17 years overseas in Russia and Northern Europe working in the precise countries I was inspired to study. It taught me the value of diplomacy and to understand just how different seemingly similar cultures can befrom one another, and why. That, in turn, has taught me to be flexible and open as a person, even as I approach the latter half of my forties.

I would happily mention “Star Trek” as an influence in an interview. Most people actually think it’s fairly cool.

13. Master Dex - December 22, 2009

I will say it once. Star Trek is the primary reason that I was inspired to become and Astronautical Engineer. I wanted to design and create space craft ever since I saw the amazing designs of ships in Star Trek. While real space craft are quite different, there is no doubt that Star Trek is most responsible for leading me to where I am now in my life.

The problem with studies like this is that not everyone is the same. Correlation does not equal causation. Get a different group to do the same study they might find different results the next time. That doesn’t mean the study is wrong, just that you cannot take it as gospel.

– Rob, Engineering student and Star Trek fan.

14. Jorg Sacul - December 22, 2009

@boborci– I can imagine who her tutor would be for the Computer Science Ph.D… our favorite pointy-eared hobgoblin.

“Really, Nyota… you excel at languages, yet the mathematical perfection of the 437 known modern computer languages escape you. How is this possible?”

“Spock,” she purrs at him,”None of them have a word for “love”.”

(Spock, mentally face-planting to himself) “Perhaps I should have stayed on Vulcan…”

15. C.S. Lewis - December 22, 2009

Unfortunately, Star Trek spin-offs, starting with TNG and happily ending with NuTrek, are simply collections of outcasts, “The Island of Misfit Toys” as it were. You have the blind engineer; the Boy Blunder; the Klingon raised by humans; the robot that wants to be human; aliens that bark and spit their words rather than speak them; assorted squishy characters that are the object of movies such as “Revenge of the Nerds”; alternative lifestyle participants and on and on.

Is it any wonder that women, who are instinctually designed to seek high-status mates to produce high quality children, are indifferent to if not repulsed by such a collection of flotsam and jetsom? The fact that technical careers have been reduced to H1B holders, or outsourced to the Third World, is proof positive that technical work holds little if any residual value to the Western mind — and that at the PhD level.

This is simple Darwinism. Call it “selective breeding” if you wish. Ironically, Star Trek is hostile to the primary faith tradition that would have us rethink the outcast, namely Christianity. In this manner, it succeeds in offending the sole remaining, mainstream segment that might lend Star Trek a positive popular perception.

It is no wonder Abrams et al wanted so desperately to distance themselves from this stereotype as it means an insufficient market to sustain the Star Trek business model. Star Trek has become a collection of minority interests that might elicit sympathy but which fail to offer an honest value proposition to most capable, fully competent people –absent NuTrek I say again, which is, perhaps self-consciously “old fashioned” in its outlook of “nothing succeeds like success!”

Those of us who are fans of the original series (note the minuscule letters, please) understand that it was intended to be mainstream in its presentation of ideas and ideals of broad interest to the survival of civilization. Star Trek’s tolerance was a product of the age of Mutually Assured Destruction — but it is not, generally speaking, a means to genetic survival absent the sword of Damocles.

So the message is clear: if you want a genetically fit mate, women know to look elsewhere than technology jobs. Now if the men would only learn that simple lesson:

Nothing succeeds like success.

Sincerely,
C.S. Lewis, MBA

16. Kayla Iacovino - December 22, 2009

I’m glad to hear that a lot of you disagree with the findings of this study. I love hearing stories about people being motivated into science by Star Trek, just as I was!

I haven’t seen the published statistics from this study other than the interpretations and results, but it also seems to me that these are not good inferences. Most people are inspired at a young age, as I was, when stereotypes don’t play as much of a role.

17. Sean - December 22, 2009

This study seems ridiculous. Along the same lines as “video games turn kids into criminals”. I dismiss it.

18. Holger - December 22, 2009

As it is so often in studies like this one, it is quite unclear how one gets from the hard empirical result as presented to the generalized conclusion, i.e. that nerdy stereotypes dissuade women from pursuing computer science.
Wouldn’t we need a lot more experiments/empirical data in order to ascertain this result?

IMHO, yes, we need a lot more data!

19. jas_montreal - December 22, 2009

I find this study absurd ! Its soo childish ! How can you base that theory on the fact that their in a star trek decorated room or not. Maybe they choose not to go into computer science because the room was poorly decorated ? lol Maybe the atmopshere they created was foul… once again, If i were a non-trek fan and be sitting in on the classic TOS bridge, I would abviously be turned off a bit ! I think women and men can love trek. This study is b.s.

I am studying for my Software Engineering Degree and I have actually spoken to many women in the Computer Science field and they’ve come to the conclusion that their scared to enter the Computer Science field because of pop-culture constraints (star trek not being the reason). I think you can blame stuff like MTV or Entertainement Tonight that paint women as non-scientific. Star Trek actually encourages women and all sexes to participate in every field of study. I entered the programming field, because i was inspired by Star Trek.

TO BOB: The New Trek was extremly women-friendly and i’m actually proud to say that the women in my family loved it ! So prove this study wrong EVEN FURTHER in the next trek….. By introducing a couple of more strong female characters. Nurse Chappel ? Female Villain ? Another Female Starship captain who has to save kirks butt ?

20. Captain Otter - December 22, 2009

Gender aside, if someone’s reason for avoiding a career is based on stereotypes and perception, that someone has has huge self-esteem issue.

Thus if thus study proves anything, it proves that we raise girls in our society to be overly sensitive to the opinions of others. We don’t teach our daughters free thinking, creativity, and control of one’s own destiny. Instead, we teach them to go along to get along and, above all else, to conform.

The problem ain’t Trek. It’s Cosmo and Oprah.

21. James Kerwin - December 22, 2009

In what possible way can “C.S. Lewis” demonstrate that Star Trek is “hostile” to Christianity? That’s just a bizarre statement. Trek is neither hostile to, nor a proponent of, any specific religious tradition. There have been occasional references to human religion on Trek, most of which seem to suggest that human religions are much the same in the future as they are today.

22. S. John Ross - December 22, 2009

#15: That is the single creepiest post I’ve seen on the Internet in years.

23. DC - December 22, 2009

I personally think this is more propaganda-esque “Anti-Trek”/”Trek Bashing” BS. Like the stories of how the media wanted to contact TrekMovie for Star Trek news stories and became disinterested in them as a source after TrekMovie refused to show Trek in a negative light.

24. CmdrR - December 22, 2009

If I really wanted to be mean, I’d say that this study has “government grant” stamped all over it. If you want REAL science, you don’t go shopping at a government store.

25. I'm dead Jim - December 22, 2009

Well, it is hard to take Trek women seriously with the ridiculously short skirts. I’m just sayin’.

26. byron - December 22, 2009

of the MAJOR trekkies i know in RL. 3 are male and 2 are female. of the CASUAL star trek fans i know, 8-10 are female and 6 are male. most of my super nerdy friends are STAR WARS fans and look down on star trek. the females don’t really make a distinctoin from what i can tell.

27. Kayla Iacovino - December 22, 2009

#24 Almost all science in the world is funded by national governments. The National Science Foundation and NASA support the research of almost 100% of the scientists I know (including myself). And, the European Research Council funds much of the work done in the UK and Europe.

28. Gorn Captain - December 22, 2009

I think this was just was a clever ploy to buy a lot of Trek stuff for somebody’s house, and make a university foot the bill!

All the women astronauts working today would probably disagree with this study. NASA actually hired Nichelle Nichols as an astronaut recruiter.

And #15 needs to lay off the eggnog. ;)

29. RM10019 - December 22, 2009

This is not a well designed study, as ‘being in a Star Trek room’ does not substitue comparably to watching the episodes and being influenced by them, and the message and ideals of Trek. I say this study gets an F.

But to boborci’s point, I say yes, give her a great, science filled, character driven problem to solve in a dramatic way!

30. Weerd1 - December 22, 2009

This study looks like it was done by people driven to science by Star WARS instead of Star Trek. I’m with Kayla… not buying it.

31. James Kerwin - December 22, 2009

Did this “study” interview her???

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/01/07/cnn25.tan.jemison/

32. Sheryl - December 22, 2009

Seems the people conducting this study have conflated geekyness with a lack of professionalism. It’s entirely possible to have a professional/academic environment with a geeky vibe, but comic books and video games are hardly appropriate in a classroom! I’d be off-put by something like that too, and I’ve probably got more in my bedroom than they used in the study.

33. OneBuckFilms - December 22, 2009

First, BobOrci – It would fit for Uhura to have some computer expertise in Communications, since knowing her equipment, communications protocols (both human and alien), as well as the countless complexities of technologies such as the Universal Translator and the process of encoding/decoding Linguacode are essential.

She probably has some knowledge of physics, already hinted at in the movie, since Subspace Communications probably involves transmission in the Subspace domain, and instrumentation and equipment for communications and data transfer are likely to be complex in many disciplines.

I cannot speak for women entering science or technology, but I can say that I was inspired to enter IT because of Spock working on the Enterprise’s library computer.

I saw a kind of logical, methodical, complex device, and wanted to know how they worked, what they did, and how I could use them.

I started learning programming at about age 14, and now in my 30s, I have a career in Tech Support and Software Development, and I am fairly good at what I do.

So thank you Spock, and thank you Star Trek.

I don’t buy the study on it’s face, since it assumes a general reason where countless others are more likely. Some socialogical (discouraged by old-fashoined viewpoints), but mostly personal, aka career choice (something else is simply more appealing).

The Nerdy Stereotype is something that applies to IT regardless of Star Trek, Star Wars or other entertainment fandom, and in some cases, Star Trek is regarded as symptomatic of geekdom, and is one of many attributes of the stereotype.

34. Jtrekker - December 22, 2009

To be honest, I think this study might have been more timely 20 years ago. Truth is, the stereotype of someone in computer science (or science in general) has been in place for years, and I think it simply comes with the territory. As with any other career, there are going to be predetermined ideas of what’s “cool” and what’s “not cool”. I think the idea of trying to connect Trek to “not cool” (which is a little questionable for use as a variable) just simply proves a point that any Trekkie who has been around for more than 10 years knows: women and Trek don’t often mix. And this isn’t to say that I don’t know a lot of women who actually enjoyed the recent Star Trek movie, but historically, Trek has been dominated by male fans.

Even so, I don’t really know too many women who decorate their homes/apartments/offices with movie memorabilia anyway. Even if a woman likes a movie or TV series, you don’t often see their room coated in it as in the case of the room above. So, chances are, the women in this study may have been more turned off by the fact that the colors weren’t complimentary of each other much more than the fact that it was Trek based.

The fact is, women are strongly involved in the sciences, and most of the ones that I have known or are aware of know that they are going into a world dominated by males who enjoy sci-fi. But most of the women I know that are like that can also debate you to the wall whether or not Star Trek V was really the worst of the Trek series, and they know a Wookie from a Tribble. Point being, deep down, they are often pretty nerdy themselves.

35. 1701A2E - December 22, 2009

I buy the story completely. Star Trek did got me interested to be involved with Space Station (late 1980s). But at that time, women were many in computer sciences but not electrical engineering. In the work face, more women were in management as they seem to have overall better organizational skills. This of course changed throughout the 1990s and this decade. Now it’s virtually impossible to find few women out of computer science studies. But during the 1990s that is when Star Trek TV and movies were hitting full stride.

Bob Orci: please keep writing scripts that attract general public and especially women! Don’t let a few stubborn Trekker/Trekkie nerds to sway you! We need Star Trek to stay “cool” and get more non-nerds in involved with sciences.

36. Mr. Delicious - December 22, 2009

Helen Noel was hot.

37. rebecca - December 22, 2009

Some of the comments on this thread are unbelievable sexist… #34, “Women and Star Trek just don’t mix”??? Excuse me, I’ve been a Trekkie since looong before this year’s movie came out.

38. Captain Z - December 22, 2009

If there’s one bad thing about the Original Series, it’s how women act so mindlessly when they see something happen to someone like Kirk. It’s stupid and sexist. I don’t like it, women don’t act like that.

39. Eric Cheung - December 22, 2009

38. I agree completely. Like most other shows of the era, the sexism is the most glaring difference, when compared with current TV. But even current pop culture tends to relegate women to a few different stereotypes. One of the places wherein sexism rears its head most today is improv comedy, but that’s not usually the case if there’s actual talent in the troupe.

As far as the article is concerned. It’s certainly possible. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s a fascinating topic to say the least.

40. Sybok's Secret Brother - December 22, 2009

@32 – Yes!! This study lacks controls.

41. Tawna - December 22, 2009

I am a female who studied science & technology, but Star Trek had no influence on that decision. Personally, I always had a difficult time sustaining interest in a single episode of that show. It is such a snooze-fest for me.

My main motivation for studying science & technology is my lifelong passion for videogames and my innate talent in mathematics.

42. Jean - December 22, 2009

I think the people who did this study were high on something.

Women and Men both hold science positions on Star Trek. Jadzia Dax from DS9, T’Pol From Enterprise, Dr. Crusher (Medical / Science), Captain Janeway (Captain and Scientific Explorer), B’Lanna Torres(Engineering / Scientific Theory), and more.

Star Trek promotes all races and creeds to equality and liberty.

43. Jeff - December 22, 2009

If I understand the study correctly, young women will choose their career based on how the room they’ll study in is decorated. It implies that if you just put fashion magazines and designer colors out, they’ll go major in anything!

Wow, and I thought women were hard to understand.

44. AJ - December 22, 2009

I’d have to disagree with #15 CS Lewis that latter-day Trek collects misfits on its various Bridges, and thus, somehow ‘dumbs down’ the fictitious genepool for women who are instinctively looking to mate with shinola in what is ultimately a pool of shit (Isn’t that what he said?).

These ‘misfit toys’ are written to gel as disparate parts of what is, or will become, a functional whole. And Star Trek has always tried hard to stress inclusion. Data on his own makes a fine toaster. But with his comrades, he excels and grows as an individual, and his contributions to the success of the mission become all the more significant. This is the same with Odo, Seven, and T’Pol and all who surround them.

I have always thought that the camaraderie amongst these individuals in Star Trek was a good reason to be inspired to pursue a field. Being surrounded with likeminded brilliant individuals brings out the best in everyone, regardless of inevitable conflicts of ego or differences of opinion. And that’s where appropriate leadership, the Captain, must effectively intervene.

Where Mr. Lewis is correct is his depiction of the latest film as an homage to pure success. JJ himself said he wanted his Starfleet Captains to all be exceptional individuals. No Will Deckers or Don Tracys. And no Baileys, Stiles, or Kevin Rileys. We get Robau and Pike, George Kirk and his son, Jim. Spock is the greatest Vulcan scientist since sliced bread. Perhaps it does feel too exclusive of the normal folk whom Kirk leaves once the sparkle of ambition, his birthright, is kindled.

In the end, Trek is supposed to suggest to humanity that it has a great purpose, and that, individually, each of us has one as well. In reality, we only have what’s available on Earth. And rather than waste our potential, we should pull our fingers out and get down to being the best we can be in whatever we care to do.

45. S. John Ross - December 22, 2009

#42: “I’d have to disagree with #15 CS Lewis that latter-day Trek collects misfits on its various Bridges, and thus, somehow ‘dumbs down’ the fictitious genepool for women who are instinctively looking to mate with shinola in what is ultimately a pool of shit (Isn’t that what he said?).”

Sort of. He said they were designed (and that the design is “instinctual” to use his term) to seek out “high status” mates (and choose their careers to this end, apparently!) and that this design is a case of … Darwinism. Among other odd things.

That said, “Designed For Darwinism” would be a fun, subversive T-Shirt slogan. Edgy and faux-intellectual yet basically vapid and meaningless. That’s pretty much the formula for selling a T-Shirt slogan to the coffeehouse demographic, near as I can tell :) Anyone here do silk-screening? We can move these suckers like crazy at Galactica conventions …

46. Lt. Bailey - December 22, 2009

Star Trek inspires us all for some thing, be it Science or Medical or Engineering and some would say Leadership. In my OCS class we actually studied the leadership qualities of all the Captains. They each have their own style and each member of my class (those that survived the course) said they would follow at least one of the captains. One could argue that these are fictional characters and not real life leaders of the military such as Grant, Lee, Patton, Bradley or Schwartzkopf. However, we concentrated on thier “style”, not any tatics. Hands down the winner was Kirk/Shatner with Archer/Bakula a close second.

Kayla,

If you were inspired by Trek then all the best to you as that is the best example of leadership. When you see some thing like Trek and want to be like that or do that with the positive message Trek has for everyone regardless the field one enters. You just showed how how the best and the brightest will succeed. Not to mention, you wear the uniform well.

47. Greg2600 - December 22, 2009

Dumbest notion ever about Star Trek. It doesn’t stop women from becoming a scientist, WOMEN do! Much greater blame goes to MTV.

48. Greg2600 - December 22, 2009

One thing I want to add is that you could argue women in Star Trek have taken a step backward with the reboot. Beginning with TNG, women have held an ever increasingly important role on each cast. Janeway was captain even. Doctors, second in command, etc. By reverting to the 1960’s cast, that has all been thrown out the door, in a sense. One of the reasons Gene’s motto “Looking Forward” was so important.

49. Charla a long time STAR TREK FAN - December 22, 2009

48, They didn’t take a step backward with the “reboot” because it is portraying the characters prior to what they eventually become.

If they would have made Uhura a science officer, then that would alter the reality of this reality, which is, Uhura was studying to become a communications officer and thus became Lt. Uhura in the 1966 series.

I don’t think anything was “thrown out the door” as much as it was keeping with the history of the characters who first came to us 43 years ago.

I believe that Star Trek will still influence little girls to want to be more involved with the sciences as is. It shows a strong female in a position of importance working in space. Not to say others won’t become captains, etc. but that is when the little girls can be shown how Janeway made Captain if so desired.

50. Red Skirt - December 22, 2009

Duh! Why pin this all on Star Trek. If you decorated that room all in Hello Kitty I would walk away from that career too (and so would the guys I bet). It’s called socialization and the reason why schools have to present things in a neutral way.

I work with plenty of geeks and I love them all. But I’m not interested in their fetishes and can walk away from it when I’m not interested. Same with mine. Most of my guy friends are not interested in the new pair of platform boots I just picked up at lunch. I typically don’t hang out with them after hours and it was never a criteria to work in a tech field. Thankfully most schools don’t present education with this kind of bias. I’m really at a loss as to what this study was supposed to prove. How old were these “students” anyway?

My impression of guys in general is that they are less attentive to environmental details. Working in a nice clean, well organized office is no different than working in one crammed full of stuff. Whereas most women I know would rather be as organized at work as at home and resist any cluttered environment regardless of what it was. I can be a bit of a slob, but nothing compared to my teenage brothers’ bedroom growing up and he hasn’t changed much as an adult! So it kinda makes sense. It’s Pavlovian at its root. Associate an irritant with a thing and a person, based on their genetic and environmentally developed disposition, will likely avoid it.

Dumb and insulting.

51. Trekkie - December 22, 2009

That’s not true. I have been influenced by Star Trek since a young age and plan to pursue a career in the sciences.

While some stereotypes associated with Star Trek may discourage some people from certain careers, it wouldn’t discourage EVERYONE

And…
@34
Women and Star Trek don’t often mix????!!!
uh, no, just no. that is completely untrue and sexist.

52. Balok - December 22, 2009

I’ll try to put this as succintly as possible… Dr, Helen Noel was the hottest, sweetest, pheromone spewing babe to ever were a blue skirt.

53. Balok - December 22, 2009

and oh, by the way, I repect her intellect as well…

54. sunspot - December 22, 2009

I suspect that what this study really shows is something which is already an established psychological fact. Women tend to be more in tune with and more affected by their environment than men. The men in the study were mostly unaffected by or oblivious to their environment when focused on completing the questionaire.

I think that Star Trek has been chock full of positive role models for women, including positive role models for female scientists.

I highly doubt the results of this study would bear much scientific scrutiny.

55. Cobalt 1365 - December 22, 2009

@52 Balok,

I’ll second that!

56. CapsFan1975 - December 22, 2009

I think there are many other negative cultural influences that have influenced women away from becoming scientists, engineers, and computer scientists rather than Star Trek. If anything, Star Trek has had plenty of strong females in technical positions.

I myself am female, had always enjoyed math and science and became a Star Trek fan as a result of interest in science fiction. I ended up majoring in math and going into the computer field. (So far, I have not been able to get my daughters into going into the same field but at least managed to convince them to get through college calculus and several college science classes.)

57. jas_montreal - December 22, 2009

@ 52.

I’ll third that !

58. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - December 22, 2009

It seems to me that the cited study has unearthed the symptoms, but not dug deeper into the actual causes of the issue. Concern about whether a woman is “nerdy” and therefore “uncool” and “unsexy” is just the tip of the iceberg, and the iceberg has nothing to do with Star Trek, it has to do with a society that values its women primarily as sex objects when young, and then baby-machines when older.

The women who allow themselves to be tied down to traditional paradigms need to empower themselves and buck the gender tropes that bind them, from those that keep them from pursuing science & math careers, to those that tell them that they are not beautiful unless they are size 0, wear makeup everyday & all day, and sport high heels until their backs give out.

59. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - December 22, 2009

^ just one follow-up: I’m proud to say that every one of my girlfriends has been a smart lady with plenty of “nerdy” qualities inside, and yet plenty of style… all admirable and accomplished people, and nothing if not alluring in every way, inside & out.

60. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - December 22, 2009

^ok, and so the upshot of that last is: all that needs be done is challenge the stereotypes, and they vaporize into the nothingness that they inherently are. It just takes women with courage and self-confidence to break through them.

61. awf some - December 22, 2009

I was not inspired to become a scientist, but Trek inspired me to pursue international relations as a major in college. It also inspired me to study languages that I was not culturally connected to and had no experience with. From it, I discovered that I’m pretty good at languages. Aaaaand I feel quite comfortable being knowledgeable and strong about a subject – if I need to be a bad-a**, I need to be a bad-a**. Star Trek did not teach me to be meek!

If I have kids, they are watching Star Trek, Firefly, and BtVS. Especially if I have girls. :)

62. Jtrekker - December 22, 2009

#37 & #51:

Let me just say that I was not trying to be sexist – I was trying to be honest. I understand that you are female and like Star Trek, and believe me when I say that is awesome. But let me also say that I have been a Star Trek fan for more than 20 years, and I am not ashamed to let people know that and encourage others to share in the joy that I find in the Trek-universe. Let me also clearly state that I have made my enjoyment of Star Trek quite clear to females I have dated or just known casually. Of all those women that I have known, I could count on one hand the number who have not looked at me like a freak when I mention Star Trek. Let me also say that, from my knowledge of other male friends who like Star Trek, this is not an uncommon experience.

My point is that the only way my statement is sexist is if I were to say that ALL women hate Star Trek or sci-fi in general. Obviously, ALL women do not. But it is from my experience – as well as many others – that it is difficult to find a woman who not only likes Star Trek but admits to it.

63. nerdinpink - December 22, 2009

I’m a collage age woman and I find that when I talk to somebody about my nerdiness (my love of comic books, science, star trek, etc.) instead of saying I’m a nerd they tend to say that I’m “like a nerdy guy.” I also find that when I talk about nerdy stuff that guys are much more likely to be put off by this. I think that girls are taught that only boys are nerds while boys are taught that being a nerd is bad. It makes me wonder how anyone becomes a nerd when all of these messages are out there. I guess I was lucky to have a mom who likes video games and a dad who loves Star Trek.

64. nerdinpink (girl) - December 22, 2009

15: What the heck?!

No offence, but you sound like a guy who’s studied women all his life but never had a mom or a girlfriend. I like TNG better than TOS. Never underestimate the power of English accents and caring instincts.

65. April Hebert - December 22, 2009

I was privileged to work at Star Trek:the Experience for it’s entire 10 1/2 year run. During that time I met many people of both genders who told me that they were inspired by Star Trek to become scientists and engineers. As a character, one of my favorite jobs was to do “away missions” to elementary schools, where, as the Vulcan scientist T’Pril, I encouraged kids to take an interest in math and science. I also served as a backstage tour host, and one of my favorite experiences involved taking members of the Society of Women Engineers on a special tour. These women were brilliant and inspiring to me; yet many confided that they envied me because I got to spend my days immersed in the very environment that had originally inspired them to become engineers!
So, while I am sure that some women are dissuaded from becoming scientists because of the stereotypes that exist, I saw so many examples to the contrary at Star Trek:the Experience that I must disagree with the results of this study. Kayla, you are in good company!

66. nerdinpink (girl) - December 22, 2009

58: If by “baby-machines” you mean stay-at-home moms, I would just like to say that I respect any woman who chooses to do that; they’re giving up a lot for their children.

67. GarySeven - December 22, 2009

I’m actually a PhD psychologist, so I can say from a professional standpoint that I think this is an awful study. There is a concept in research called “external validity,” which is basically about the degree to which a study can generalize to the complexity of the real world. Putting women in a room with comic books, video games, and posters is not akin to having a fondness for watching Star Trek and other sci fi. This was a very lame and contrived study.

68. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - December 22, 2009

@66 — No, I’m not referring to stay-at-home moms in particular, I’m talking about societal tropes about what women are “supposed” to do and be. Look at the context. By “baby machines” I am referring to the gender role of “mom-aged” women. I am actually distancing myself from espousing predefined gender roles. I embrace a greater fluidity to them, so I have no more a problem with stay-at-home moms than double-income-no-kids lesbian lawyer couples….

69. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - December 22, 2009

@67 — It’s a relief to have someone qualified chime in about this bad “science”. Whew!

70. Kigs - December 22, 2009

For me, it was science and medicine. I always wanted to be in the medical filed and seeing Nurse Chapel turn into Doctor Chapel alwasy ment something to me. Star Trek always excited me scientific side by making me think and I contribute some of what I have learned to Star Trek. If anything, it showed that it was possible for a woman to be in a head position long before it was commonly acceptable. Now I came to Trek in the early 90’s as a pre-teen- so times were diffrent than the 60’s but I think it still holds true. I would have loved to see more of Nurse/Doctor Chapel and the female scientists on board. hint, hint, Mr. Orci! :)

71. ryanhuyton - December 22, 2009

Perhaps the real reason that the women left the room was because someone farted? Maybe the person who commisioned this survey?:-)

72. Admiral Waugh - December 22, 2009

This would be an incredibly easy study to refute, if the conclusion did include Star Trek as a culprit. Put them in a Star Wars room. Put them in a Battlestar Galactica room. It has nothing to do with Star Trek. And they put the most hokey things in there. You’ll probably find less women in all those settings wanting to become scientists. It’s not Trek, it’s the negative stereotypes they’re feeding off of.

Star Trek doesn’t actually mean anything about being a scientist, but they’re being led into thinking that being a scientist means a road going down that path — confining themselves to super nerdy loser boyfriends and the such. All the study does is expose the author to insane bias, poorly constructed experiments, and hopefully a future not receiving further NSF grants.

Oh and, Uhura, being an expert in linguistics, must already possess some significant computer science knowledge since computational linguistics is so cutting edge now.

73. starfleetmom - December 23, 2009

B.S.
I am a Trekkie through and through and majored in Life Science.
My 7 year old daughter loves Star Trek and wants to be a scientist when she grows up. She loves oceanography but is also fascinated by space science.
While I love my computer, and I love science, I don’t have much interest in “computer science.” I think the study was lame…science is a very broad term!

74. Zaku - December 23, 2009

Just look at this image:

http://img132.imageshack.us/img132/9294/uhura.jpg

A black woman. In 1966.

And THIS stops women???

75. Anti-Matter - December 23, 2009

Relax, people. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology is a peer-reviewed, APA journal; I just checked. They do not publish nonsense studies, and GarySeven (67) especially ought to know how difficult it would be to publish a study with such obvious problems.

What is more likely is that Kayla has simply misrepresented the research by either not understanding it, or by glossing over the details.

The suggestion that the study is propaganda is naive and ridiculous. Before you can even debate the researchers’ interpretation and conclusion, you would have to read and understand their methods, the data, and the statistical analysis.

In short, this isn’t one of TrekMovie’s better articles :p

Holiday Cheers !

76. Mary - December 23, 2009

As a girl who likes Trek (especially Voyager) I’d like to point out that there are quite a few of us out there. Some of us were inspired to become scientists like astronaut Dr. Janice Voss, who said that she believes Star Trek in all its incarnations “inspires children to say, ‘This is something really interesting and really cool, and if I study math and science, I can do that too.'”

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/everydaylife/star_trek.html

Star Trek certainly doesn’t lack great female role models http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfJvKiVa_LI

But obviously we would appreciate it if future NuTrek movies would include more women who are not just mothers (Winona, Amanda) and girlfriends (Gaila). http://community.livejournal.com/where_no_woman/profile

77. Zaku - December 23, 2009

Who want to read the original article:

http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2009-22579-003&CFID=26822585&CFTOKEN=81374142

($11.95)

78. Holger - December 23, 2009

A friend of mine quit electrical engineering after two semesters because she was the ONLY woman in the entire college of engineering she went to, among about 1000 male students.
I think the quantitative dominance of men (which I think still prevails even though the numbers of women are increasing) in engineering/science would be much more deserving of empirical study than classroom decoration. At least it has a lot more initial plausibility that potential female students are put off by the prospect of being part of a small minority. (Even though it isn’t always as drastic as my friend experienced.)

79. Holger - December 23, 2009

PS: Yes, I’m aware that the present study tried to find causes for the male dominance. My point is that once the dominance is in place, whatever the reason may be for it, that imbalance itself could possibly be the strongest motive dissuading women.

80. Pauln6 - December 23, 2009

49. Charla a long time STAR TREK FAN – December 22, 2009
“They didn’t take a step backward with the “reboot” because it is portraying the characters prior to what they eventually become.”

The movie IS a step backwards. In the sixties, Trek was ahead of its time by featuring female officers at all, even if they were at the mercy of their emotions much of the time. But it also featured strong women in positions of power such as Number One and T’Pau, both of whom were left out of the reboot. Further, while the male/female dynamic of the main cast is set by history, the writers completely failed to present the supporting cast in the light of 21st century equality. So we have no female captains, first officers, or admirals and a male-dominated Vulcan Science Council.

72. Admiral Waugh – December 22, 2009
“This would be an incredibly easy study to refute, if the conclusion did include Star Trek as a culprit. Put them in a Star Wars room. Put them in a Battlestar Galactica room. It has nothing to do with Star Trek. And they put the most hokey things in there. You’ll probably find less women in all those settings wanting to become scientists. It’s not Trek, it’s the negative stereotypes they’re feeding off of.”

I agree that the survey is bogus – it’s a symptom not a cause and BSG is a very good example of how it would be possible to wipe out the gender divide if sci fi characters were divided between the sexes AFTER being written (maybe pick names out of a hat).

These kinds of negative stereotypes pervade Amercian television and movies. The male, often fat, often bespectacled, and always lacking in social skills, computer nerd is splattered all over film and tv while the female computer nerd equivalent is thin, beautiful, stylish and ok, often bespectacled. There is a bizarre double standard. I had hopes that the bionic woman would get it on with her computer nerd handler because they shared a prickly sense of humour but no, she fell for the handsome, chiselled, dull action man instead. The most blatant use was in Charlie’s Angels where the shy, sensitive computer nerd turns out to be a wrong ‘un. He takes off his nerd sweater, puts on a stylish black sweater, lights up a cigarette and says hey I’m actually a cool villain – see how I cast aside these negative nerd traits. Ludicrous!

And what do we have in Trek? A re-imaging of the shy, intelligent bookworm who grows in confidence through experience to become a great leader to an arrogant bad boy who disobeys orders and flies by the seat of his pants and is rewarded with his own command in spite of having no command experience and, in fact, almost no starship experience at all. In fairness to Pine, he manages to sneak in a few moments where the man who could have been that bookworm comes through but overall, I was disappointed that they make such an interesting atypical character a teen stereotype because most casual fans assume that is how young Kirk must have been.

One of my favourite movie heroines is the dumpy, middle-aged, irascible scientist in the Amdromeda Strain. I noticed that in the recent remake, she was replaced by several young, thin, beautiful women instead, sigh.

To summarise, I’m favour of random allocation of sex to characters in equal numbers (subject to restrictions on love interests if you don’t want to offend middle America!). But that kind of attitude should cut across all tv and movie media. Sci fi can’t carry the can alone.

81. Jeyl - December 23, 2009

@2: We’ll have to have Uhura get her second Ph.D in computer science!

I don’t know. I think Uhura has plenty of incredible skills that have absolutely no use to anyone or anything.

1. Uhura knows the Romulan Language (Plus all three dialects).
– But all the Romulans speak perfect english. Her skills are entirely useless.

2. But wait! It’s those very skills that got her on the bridge!
– indeed, but what she did at her station could have easily been done by anyone, including Mr. “I can’t distinguish” if he had just tried and listened.

3. But wait! She’s the head communications officer on the bridge! A very important position!
– Yes, but she didn’t really do anything. Heck, everyone else but Uhura did all the communication’s tasks, like contacting Vulcan and telling them to evacuate, and hailing Nero when his ship was losing power. All of those assignments should be the communications officer’s department, but instead of handing them to Uhura, who is now the head of communications, everyone else does it including one offscreen officer (who seems to be the default ‘go to’ coms officer) and chekov (what doesn’t he do?). It’s like if I assigned someone to the weapons station, but asked the navigator to fire all weapons. Or if I assign someone to the science station, and asked the security station to scan and analyze an unknown entity.

4. So, what’s Uhura’s point in the movie?
– To strip out of her clothes and give Spock something to love. That’s it. Just look at that scene in the Transporter room where she sees Kirk and Spock off. The men go out to save the galaxy while the women stay behind and wait for them. And as an added bonus, the men who also stay behind warp in to save the day with no thanks to Uhura either.

You see what I’m trying to get at here? Star Trek isn’t stopping women from becoming scientists. It’s stopping them from being treated as equals. They have to take the positions of low authority, wear the eye-candy short skirts, show scenes of them stripping off their clothing and become nothing but the love interest to the male characters that doesn’t do anything for the story. If it was important, Uhura would have stepped up for Spock. But since the story doesn’t need her to help Spock, she’s just written out.

At least the original Uhura got to command the Enterprise. This Uhura will be lucky enough to even do her job at the post to which this movie has been constantly reminding us that she’s the best at.

82. Sotirios Moshonas - December 23, 2009

Kayla:

You did a great job in reporting about women cannot be what they want to be. I don’t know where they got their studies and information.

If they are looking to stir up trouble, then tell them they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Please send them back to the late 19th Century or the first 40 years of the 20th Century. This is the 21st Century. Women have come a long way since the beginning of time.

Did you know, Kayla, that Nichelle Nichols worked for NASA one time?

By the way, young lady — here is a clip that got me moving. Although, he is no longer with us — all Star Trek Fans will never forget it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsSdLD_YodQ

Keep up the good work, Kayla. Keep believing in your dreams. Seasons Greetings and a Prosperous New Year.

P.S.: Tell the guys at Nat-Sci-Found and Sapna Cheryan to take their studies and sit on it! (AAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!)

83. Pauln6 - December 23, 2009

81. Jeyl – December 23, 2009
“You see what I’m trying to get at here? Star Trek isn’t stopping women from becoming scientists. It’s stopping them from being treated as equals. They have to take the positions of low authority, wear the eye-candy short skirts, show scenes of them stripping off their clothing and become nothing but the love interest to the male characters that doesn’t do anything for the story.”

Uhura is never going to be the action girl unless they write a story that takes her off the ship. The same holds true for Chapel. In many ways Rand is best suited for this kind of thing, which is why she was the principle female lead in TOS and why I’m hoping that they reintroduce her as a security-trained yeoman in the sequel.

I prefer Nichelle’s portrayal, partly because she was just about the only female character who was free of overt romantic feelings so she was able to get on with her job and do it well. However, she was passed over for command of the ship on at least 2 occasions and only got to command it in the animated episode when all the men were unavailable. She should definitely have been given more opportunities. I’m hopeful that they treat her more like an officer and less like a girlfriend in the sequl. Not that hopeful… Bring on Rand.

84. Pauln6 - December 23, 2009

Wierd – I just dropped through into an alternative dimension where my last two posts were edited out of existence… and it caused my pc to crash! Very odd, especially as I was generally agreeing with post 72! Could be a glitch in the matrix or maybe I upset someone? Does that happen a lot?

85. startrekgirl - December 23, 2009

Thats ridiculous! If you’re not a fan of Star Trek and think its just for geeks, of course you’re going to be turned off by a roomfull of “geek” stuff. And most girls are afraid of being labeled “geeks.”

I’m female and LOVE Star Trek, I’ll take the geek label with pride. It made me want to study physics or astronomy by presenting what would inarguably be the greatest outcome for humanity in the distant future. Putting me in a Star Trek-themed room would get me really excited about the thought!

What an incredible waste of research time. I agree with the poster who suggested a Star Wars/Battlestar Galactica room to see if similar results happened.

86. startrekgirl - December 23, 2009

@Jeyl

Talk about looking too much into something. The Romulans spoke perfect english for the sake of the movie AUDIENCE. In a deleted scene they are seen speaking the language with subtitles. And even if one shipful of Romulans speak it that doesn’t mean all do.
Communications are VITAL in space. Its not a useless position.

Star Trek was REVOLUTIONARY for its time in terms of gender equality. Women were put into military positions (not to mention a black female as a Liutenant). Let me guess, a Trekkie purist who will seek to find anything wrong with the new film? You guys are pathetic.

Even if you think Uhura was useless in the film you have to realize there was little opportunity for her to do much else with what was going on. It would have been the same in TOS. Dr McCoy pretty much had the same happen to him. Want to whine about that?

87. Merlinmaus - December 23, 2009

As a female physicist I find it hard to tell what came first: My love for scifi or my talent for physics. I’m really not sure, if I started to be interested in science *because* I grew up with Star Trek, Star Wars and lots of (comparing to ST more feminitic) Scifi books or if I responded to the franchise *because* the talent was already there.

From what I read above I find it doubtful that this kind of study explaines anything. What you dream to become and if and when it is takes place is certainly driven by so many influences and grwos and changes over the years that I cannot imagine, that the response to a decorated room will lead to hard evidence. I think that some personally experiences, like people who inspire you on a personal level might have a higher impact than a TV show, no matter if you’re a fan or not. If you grow up in an enviroment like me in Germany, where females are encouraged to care for science, than this matters certainly more.

And yes, I disliked the female sterotypes on ST, I find them way to non-feministic, but living in my country that doesn’t stop me :-)

88. Red Skirt - December 23, 2009

You go Jeyl!

But don’t forget Kirk stripped down too. A girl doesn’t forget a thing like that. ;-)

The bigger problem with Uhura is how she was originally conceived. She’s the only woman in an ensemble of 7 and she performs the least important job of all them, perpetually desk bound. I don’t recall another woman even depicted with any higher authority. All of the admirals are men too. It’s a giant 23rd century boys club. Sadly, the current depiction of Uhura is tied to how she came about in the 60s. I honestly don’t think it is possible to turn a communications officer into anything more substantial without promoting her out of her field. The fact that the TNG era eliminated communications officers completely should tell us all we need to know. Perhaps they will promote her. In fact I got the feeling that this Uhura was much more of a climber than the way the original was written. Her goal isn’t to be the best damn communications officer in the fleet (and have a moonlighting job as a lounge singer), she wanted specifically to get on board the flagship. I would not be surprised if Uhura has her eye on FIrst Officer, or even Captain. She reminds me much more of Mirror Kirk’s girlfriend. So it’s either ambition or vanity – I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

Whether they do that or not, they seriously need to bring in more women in authority, which of course diminishes Uhura as a character. Otherwise, the only way Uhura could have a more substantial role is if they need her to go on missions. I saw a few Enterprise episodes which dealt specifically with Hosi, who was actually a vital link to the success of the mission (make no mistake, Hosi’s other sexist attributes detracted from that portrayal). But then, she invented the technology that Uhura has at her disposal. If the next Star Trek does an Avatar-type story, then Uhura might become vitally important when the technology doesn’t work and give her the opportunity to lay the groundwork for her promotion to command duties.

89. VZX - December 23, 2009

This study is just stupid. You can’t draw such general conclusions based on such a small sample. They would need to do all kinds of tests over longer periods of years on many different kinds of people multiple times.

While it is true that more men than women like sci-fi and there are more men in the sciences, I do not think it is the “nerdy-ness” of the profession that scares women away. I know a couple of physicists who do not like sci-fi at all, and I know plenty of sci-fi fans who are not scientists. This whole study is just ridiculous.

BTW: Star Trek did inspire me to get my degree in physics. And I am thankful it did! (Oh, but I’m a guy)

90. Kayla Iacovino - December 23, 2009

@75 Just because a journal is peer-reviewed, that does not mean that studies with fallacies cannot be published. I did not gloss over any of the details of this study in order to make it look bad.

Read the abstract: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2009-22579-003&CFID=26822585&CFTOKEN=81374142

It clearly states that by putting Star Trek objects in a computer science room, females in that room with be turned off to computer science.

91. Nata - December 23, 2009

@62. Jtrekker:

As for being a fan for 20 years and never meeting a fan of the opposite sex: many women fans have the same woes, believe me.

Geeks, male or female, make a small percent of the population, period. It’s hard to meet a fellow soul in real life. Bless the internet that now we can at least meet online!

I’m a female computer science/math major and a major geek, and I struggled with finding any fellow geek soul all my youth. And yes, there are negative stereotypes associated with geeks, but they hit both sexes.

As for this study – let me say I’m put off by this room decour as well. Now if you give me a normal room with a big screen TV and a comfy coach and a nice powerful PC, and a couple of posters with Nimoy!Spock and Shatner!Kirk – I’ll be so there! :) It’s just… too much to me, but it has nothing to do with loving Star Trek or science.

And why should a girl choose her profession by hanging out in her boyfriend room (that seem to be an implication) rather than watching the show itself? The correlation seems very poor here.

92. Devon - December 23, 2009

#81 – “You see what I’m trying to get at here?”

Yes, that you’re very paranoid who creates situations on your own to slam others for.

I’m more than happy to go through and debunk a lot of what you said.

“1. Uhura knows the Romulan Language (Plus all three dialects).
– But all the Romulans speak perfect english. Her skills are entirely useless.”

Nope. In important moments the Romulans spoke in English. However, if one paid attention (which I doubt you did) you would notice that there was Romulan dialect flying around when Nero was being escorted over to Nero (and then of course in the deleted scenes they actually spoke in Romulan to each other, but please don’t truncate my post and say something like “The deleted scenes don’t count,” because it’s in the film regardless.)

“2. But wait! It’s those very skills that got her on the bridge!
– indeed, but what she did at her station could have easily been done by anyone, including Mr. “I can’t distinguish” if he had just tried and listened.”

And if he isn’t proficient in Romulan dialect, what good would it have done? Uhura is proficient in this… there are Romulans attacking… 2+2=? I’m not sure you thought things clearly here.

“3. But wait! She’s the head communications officer on the bridge! A very important position!
– Yes, but she didn’t really do anything”

Right, she’s Uhura after all.

“like contacting Vulcan and telling them to evacuate, and hailing Nero when his ship was losing power.”

Who contacted them then?

“4. So, what’s Uhura’s point in the movie?”

Apparently to give you something to complain about when there’s nothing to complain about.

“At least the original Uhura got to command the Enterprise.”

When? I just remember it once in the cartoon! You’re clinging on to THAT?

“This Uhura will be lucky enough to even do her job at the post to which this movie has been constantly reminding us that she’s the best at.”

All of that for nothing. He makes a one sentence remark, and you go on giving him a lecture about nothing. Yeesh, get over it.

93. Devon - December 23, 2009

#92 – Correction…

“However, if one paid attention (which I doubt you did) you would notice that there was Romulan dialect flying around when Nero was being escorted over to Nero”

That should read “when ROBAU was being escorted over to Nero.”

94. Losira - December 23, 2009

First of all star trek is not anti christian.they seem to do Love thy nieghbor @ uncondional caring then todays yuppie evangelicals that promote only what is convient to themselvies @ thei peers. Jesus was non conformist. 2nd I taught my daughters to think for themselvies. I told them in the end your peers don’t pay your rent @ bills. You are the one who has to live with decisions made. Make sure they are your decions. Beng a woman is not just being Suzi Homaker its many paths. You choose not sociaty and as for this study garbage! I would rather be a self assured computer geek then a nerotic Carrie Bradshaw with und ending emotional issues @ personal roller costers and equally unstable friends no thanks! Trek has been an inspiration to me and my daughters.and now my grandkids. Yo know what ? Let the jones live their way and let us trekkies live ours.its no ones business but or own.

95. losira - December 23, 2009

Ps a near and dear freind who is a scientist has a loving husbad. And 2 beautiful children so there. Image is transatory. Intellect is 4ever.wom, were pushed out of carrer fieldf by little me ¥onservative like Rush Dumbaugh and other frustrated little angry men that have no vision what’s so ever.just a lot of brut testosterone just like those who sponserd this test. Ladies stand strong you choose who you want to be CHOSE!

96. Losira - December 23, 2009

To CS lewis where would we be without Geeks Like Thomas Alva Edison. Yuppies playing the stock market by candlite! Which by the way a lot of “successful” yuppies lost everything. And as for women looking to men for super kids the last thing I want is a Khan Nooniehn Shing for a SON! Or his Wrath!

97. Losira - December 23, 2009

Another Famous GEEK Madame Marie Curie discovered Radium a Female Geek who’s discovery saved countless lives and she also had a loving husband @ children. Moral lesson Geeks are winners

98. Dirk - December 23, 2009

At least it weeds out the stupid pop culture ridden valley girls. Now we just need to stop their genomes from spreading.

99. Anti-Matter - December 23, 2009

@90

No, it does not say that. The abstract describes *one* Trek poster as an example of various items within their category.

Abstracts are used for indexing and searching, and by colleagues and students to decide whether they should read the full article. Did you read the journal article and the methods section? I have not, but I’m willing to bet that the researchers were not testing an effect of Star Trek, that the work was not about Star Trek, and that the poster was incidental; it could probably have been a Star Wars poster or any other category exemplar.

Are you sure you weren’t over-playing the trek card here to create reader buzz? I’ll try to track down a reprint of the JPSP article. [If you already have a PDF copy, let me know and I'll send you an email.]

100. Anti-Matter - December 23, 2009

Science news is carrying the photo of the testing rooms that were published by Dr. Cheryan:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/download/id/50808/name/WRONG_SETTING

That website also uses the “Trek’ angle as a story hook, but they provide better coverage of the study. It is clear from the photos that “Star Trek” was not the manipulation in the study, even though the movie posters in both rooms were the most visually prominent.

The research is sound: Males and females are randomly assigned to one of two room conditions: neutral objects vs. nerdy objects. Behavior is measured and it is found that room has an effect on behavior *only* in the female participants.

Why do you “doubt” the findings? There is nothing logically wrong with the experiment. You can only debate the operational definition of “nerdy” and ask why females are put off by certain cues.

For example, why did the researchers choose “First Contact” for their movie poster in the experimental room? Well, they chose items that would elicit a stereotype, which implies there is data that people tend to associate Star Trek with nerds. The researchers must have some experimental justification for each object that ended up in the two testing rooms. This is often done through pilot studies. [Again, the original article will be revealing here.]

Female participation in the sciences is increasing, but not in the specific domain of the computer sciences. Why? This research was designed to test the hypothesis that stereotypes are influencing the behavior. A Star Trek movie poster was used as one of the several (non-Trek) cues to elicit a target stereotype. That’s all!

The experiment was simple and clever; but this article has people blindly attacking those poor researchers.

101. Jason P Hunt - SciFi4Me.com - December 24, 2009

Anti-Matter: just remember, the whole global warming industry was based on “peer reviewed” material as well, and we see how that’s working out…

Really, any study can be made to support a particular viewpoint, if the assumption is made first and the data is then selectively used to support it.

And I agree with those who have criticized JJTrek for diminishing Uhura’s role. She really was simple eye candy.

102. Jeyl - December 24, 2009

@92: “you’re very paranoid who creates situations on your own to slam others for.”

So Chekov did not do Uhura’s job in hailing the Narada? Cause usually that’s what Uhura is known for. Maybe Uhura was using Chekov’s voice for some reason.

Also, it’s pretty awkward how she is written to take her work very seriously but leaves her station no-less than three times for personal reasons during times of great crises and emergency. That would be categorized as unprofessional and unsuitable for duty in any field of work.

@92: However, if one paid attention (which I doubt you did)

I do LOVE IT when users make up dumb assumptions about a poster simply because they differ in opinion. Yes Devon, I did notice the chatter. And as a bonus, I even noticed that the Romulans were shouting in their native tongue during Kirk and Spock’s assault on the Narada when they first beamed in.

Take it like this. I introduce you to a character who is an expert electrician and establish to the audience that his skills are so good that he can charge a dead computer with salt and a paperclip. However, he uses none of those skills and is instead assigned to just changing batteries in a remote. Anyone can do it, but because he’s the best, he gets the ‘electric fixing’ position.

So If you’re going to devote time and dialogue around a character’s set of skills and treat it as important, it doesn’t do any good for the story or the character if you’re not going to have it pay off. One of the best examples of establishing things and having them pay off later in the story is the film “Back to the Future”. Nothing mentioned in that movie is left behind.

103. Holger - December 24, 2009

@ merlinmaus: Frohe Weihnachten und viele Grüße aus Regensburg!

104. Phoenix - December 24, 2009

Im gonna make this brief, I am a woman. I am not yet active on ANY jobs, but it looks like im going to the path of science.

105. NCC-73515 - December 24, 2009

I’m half female, mentally ;)
But I know several of the women in the labs I’ve worked in (neuroscience) are sci-fi fans. There’s a girl who’s working on her diploma thesis (in the same lab where I work on mine) and she is the greatest Janeway fan ever.

106. NCC-73515 - December 24, 2009

@ merlinmaus and Holger:
Selbiges aus München :D

107. Dom - December 24, 2009

I was always under the impression that Star Trek had a stronger female fanbase than most sci-fi franchises!

108. VeratheGun - December 24, 2009

As a woman with an engineering degree, I can tell you exactly why women don’t go into computer science: the obnoxious, overbearing, frat house, intellectually “superior” attitude displayed by too many men in computer science.

I clearly remember when I had a problem with a computer program and approaching the “24 hour tech support” in the university computer lab, being alternately harassed for a date or dismissed as incredibly stupid for daring to interrupt their 24 hour sessions of online gaming.

Lots of other career options start looking pretty good, when you think you might have to interact with those people on a regular basis. Sorry, guys but it’s true.

109. Red Skirt - December 24, 2009

VeratheGun, thanks for reminding me of that. As long as major companies like Yahoo keeps doing stuff like this, http://www.boingboing.net/2009/10/20/yahoo-hires-lap-danc.html
It’s only going to keep most socialized women away.

This incident is typical of the mentality and behavior of most IT departments. Not that I care personally – boys will be boys. But as long as this kind of behavior is tolerated on a corporate level – and make no mistake, Yahoo is still doing it, just not so publicly, then it will drive a lot of women away from that environment. I cannot tell you how uncomfortable I was when my company took us to a dinner at an “erotic” sushi house, the kind where sushi is served on a naked woman lying in the middle of the table. Again, I have no problem with that in general, but seriously, I’m not interested in sharing that kind of experience with my co-workers. Talk about bringing out the frat-boy mentality …

110. nerdinpink (girl) - December 24, 2009

Hmmm… I think I’d like to make some conclusions.

1. Among women the ones who like Star Trek are more of a minority than among men.

2. Women who like Star Trek are generally inspired by it.

3. Women who don’t like Star Trek are sometimes put off by it.

4. Women are probably more put off by inappropriate office decoration than by Star Trek.

5. Some men understand women and some, really, really don’t.

Of course these are very unscientific conclusions. :-)

111. GarySeven - December 24, 2009

#99 Antimatter is correct, in that the entire article must be read to make a definitive judgment. That said, just because a journal is APA and peer-reviewed does not mean the study can be based on a fallacy or turn out to be fatally flawed, as #90 points out. But my strong impression, based on the information provided, is the external validity of this study is poor, which would make its conclusions invalid.
As for the poster who doubts global warming, citing peer-reviewed articles, I can only point out that there are thousands of articles all attesting to the same thing. To dismiss this body of research, using very different methods and looking at different data, which generally conclude global waming is a grave concern, is simply putting ideology over research. The results of all these studies cannot be compared to one single study on Star Trek, which may very well have flawed or at least limited generalizability. But since when has a well-established body of research been a match for human bias?

112. GarySeven - December 24, 2009

I meant “can’t be based on a fallacy or turn out to be fatally flawed” not can be.

113. Christine - December 25, 2009

While I’m not a fan of the fact that every woman on TOS wore a minidress (and, was it just me, or were the ones in ST09 even smaller?), the rest of the Trek franchise has inspired me to continue pursuing a medical career, practically. Personally, I think that Star Trek (despite the fact that its target audience is men) is a great inspiration to women. It was one of the first to show a woman in an executive position (Uhura in TOS) and in later series, their positions only grew (Tasha Yar in TNG, Jadzia Dax in DS9, Kira Nerys (DS9), Captain Janeway (VOY), etc..).

So while this article does catch my attention, I find myself disagreeing with it. After all, in college, when I’m not studying my butt off for exams and working on getting a pre-med in Neurology-based studies, I’ll probably be tuning in to Star Trek. One thing’s for sure: It’s not stopping me, it’s urging me to push forward.

114. Merlinmaus - December 26, 2009

@ Holger & NCC-73515: Oh wie nett, noch ein paar Deutsche :-) Frohe Weihnachten zurück!

115. Captain Robert April - December 26, 2009

A total, disgraceful load of crap.

116. Sharon - May 20, 2011

Women can’t get jobs as computer programmers. Younger girls unconsciously see that.

117. Israel Urps - June 15, 2011

I have realized that online education is getting common because getting your college degree online has developed into popular option for many people. A huge number of people have certainly not had an opportunity to attend an established college or university nevertheless seek the elevated earning potential and a better job that a Bachelors Degree provides. Still other folks might have a college degree in one field but would wish to pursue some thing they already have an interest in.

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