PC Culture

MIT Librarian: Star Trek Posters Discourage Women from Pursuing Tech

People dressed as characters from various Star Trek television shows at the “Star Trek: Mission New York” convention, September 2, 2016. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

The top librarian at MIT is claiming that putting Star Trek posters and other nerdy stuff on your office walls could actually prevent women from pursuing tech careers.

“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,” said Chris Bourg, director of libraries at MIT, according to an article in The College Fix.

As the Fix noted, nearly half the attendees of the Creation 40th Anniversary Star Trek convention were women. What’s more, a 2010 survey of 5,014 Star Trek fans found that 57 percent of them were female. Although the exact numbers may have changed since then, it’s clear that the idea that Star Trek is just for dudes is one rooted in stereotypes rather than statistical fact.

Despite all of this, Bourg apparently thinks the posters are sexist and absolutely have to go.

“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,” she continued. “Those kinds of things reinforce the stereotypes about who does tech; and that stereotype is the male-nerd stereotype.”

It seems as though the main stereotype being reinforced here is the one that Star Trek fans are exclusively male — and Bourg is the one reinforcing it.

Again, it seems as though the main stereotype being reinforced here is the one that Star Trek fans are exclusively male — and Bourg is the one reinforcing it. Though Bourg insisted to the Fix that her concerns were based on research, a glance at the study she cited reveals that it had a sample size of just 52 students.

Personally, I’d rather die than watch an episode of Star Trek, but I don’t think that’s because I’m a woman. I’m just not into space (it is about space, right?) and technology and all of that kind of stuff, and I never have been. I prefer spending my day at my language-based job, and then going home to watch Kitchen Nightmares.

No posters could’ve stopped me from studying English and journalism in college. It would take something far, far worse to make me abandon the pursuit of my dreams — and I’d like to believe that most women are, in fact, strong enough to feel the same.

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