A study by the University of Washington found that the stereotype of computer scientists as geeks is driving girls out of computer science:
"When people think of computer science, the image that immediately pops into many of their minds is of the computer geek surrounded by such things as computer games, science-fiction memorabilia and junk food," said lead researcher Sapna Cheryan, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington. "That stereotype doesn't appeal to many women who don't like the portrait of masculinity that it evokes."
The upshot: Women don't feel they would fit in and so steer clear of computer-science majors and jobs, the researchers say. Such avoidance could help to explain why just 22 percent of computer-science graduates are women, a percentage that has been steadily decreasing, according to 2008 data from the National Science Foundation.