My wife linked me to this article about a cultural study done on certain masculine aspects of things which often surround computer science.
She (my wife) brought it up in the context of cables and cords lying around and I’d guess that extends to the unused laptop, mouse or keyboard. She is a very neat person. I am less so, but she keeps me in check. This is good.
The article talks about the physical environment of a computer science classroom or office. I don’t know what classrooms this study is looking at. I can only assume that they are primary and secondary classrooms because the college classrooms in which I teach and in which I attended are the same boring sterile classrooms in which all subjects are taught.
I can comment on offices. The quote from the article is a quote by the lead researching Sapna Cheryan from the University of Washington. She says “… 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.”
I’d like to address each of things. There are no computer games on my desk at home nor at work. At home, I share a desk with my wife, occasionally there is a game left out. They are hers. I have her Rollercoaster Tycoon CD in my backpack right now, because she left it in my disk drive. I do not play video games. It is a choice. I used to play a few video games. I think that when Starcraft 2 comes out, I’ll probably play that video game.
I have some science fiction memorabilia stuffed in drawers at home. A hat from the cast of the original Stargate movie. A signed Richard Dean Anderson photograph. Both of these were gifts from people who knew that I love Stargate. I don’t leave them out. I don’t talk about them. In fact, if any of my coworkers read this, both items will probably be a surprise to them, and they will probably make fun of me greatly for each of them.
Junk food is bad. I’d probably eat lots of junk food if I didn’t have my wife to take care of me and she didn’t constantly remind me about good nutrition and encourage me by talking to me about the food industry, summarizing books for me and watching movies with me such as Supersize Me and Food Inc. I bring my lunch to work almost every day rather than eat out. As I write this many of my coworkers are out at the monthly Ann Arbor “Nerd Lunch”. I try to eat healthy.
I try to eat healthy to the point that food preparation is something that I can talk at length about. Last night I made cottage cheese. I bake all my own bread. I’ve not bought bread from a store in over 6 years. I make my own chicken stock. I make a lot of things that are often bought. I do not consider any of these things add to my computer geek. If anything I’m a non-geek. These things are also traditionally non-masculine activities. Although more recently I think they are more niche hobbies than feminine activities.
What is the point? I guess I’m trying to say, look deeper. Yes, on the surface there is a video game, bad-sci-fi, junk food culture to computer science, but as soon as you peel back the first layer there is a variety and depth as wide as any other profession.