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Newsletter Editions

Published: 06/08/2011
Summer 2011

Outreach

Debunking Stereotypes Workshop

 

Presenting for the American Association for University Women-Seattle chapter (Left to right: Amanda Tose ’11, Marissa Vichayapai ’08, Lauren Hudson ’11, Dr. Sapna Cheryan).

Photo: Presenting for the American Association for University Women-Seattle chapter (Left to right: Amanda Tose ’11, Marissa Vichayapai ’08, Lauren Hudson ’11, Dr. Sapna Cheryan

Psychology Department assistant professor Sapna Cheryan, understands the importance of taking research out of the lab and into the community. Two years ago, she and her students developed Debunking Stereotypes, a workshop for schools and companies designed to boost women’s and girl’s interest in computer science and engineering by combatting stereotypes. This workshop was the outcome of many years of research showing that the current image of computer science and engineering, fueled by inaccurate stereotypes (e.g., the “computer nerd” stereotype), discourages many women (and men) from entering these fields. Workshop attendees learn how stereotypes can deter students’ interest in computer science and engineering and are given tools and strategies to change these stereotypes in their own communities and institutions. In addition to learning from the researchers themselves, workshop attendees also hear from a UW computer science & engineering (CSE) department advisor who shares what being a CSE major is really like.

Cheryan and her students have now presented this workshop six times to such diverse audiences as high school math and science teachers at UW’s CS4HS program, employees at Microsoft Research, parents and teachers at the Seattle Expanding Your Horizons conference, and high school and college students at the UW Women in Science and Engineering conference. These workshops have proven not only to be beneficial to the community but discussions with workshop attendees have in turn furthered research in Cheryan’s lab. See http://depts.washington.edu/sibl/ for more information about the research and this workshop.