These stereotypes did not lessen with age, as high school students expressed the same impressions. One high-school student described technology workers as "smart...They've got to be kind of nerdy," and added, "I'm not that type of person...They don't do anything. They don't talk on the telephone...they don't want to do anything by study...it's not a good life." Her description paints a picture of an antisocial person, who is single minded in his or her focus on work. By distancing herself from "that type of person," this student is creating a barrier between herself and people who have careers in technology.
Here's the thing. This high school girl, wherever she is, isn't too far off the mark from where I'm sitting. And yes, I'm sitting in front of a computer. I do work all the time, I do focus on work like my dog focuses on cat turds, and I actually do hate talking on the phone.
I admit, I don't sit in front of the computer EVERY day. I have finally restructured my schedule so I don't sit in front of the computer every day. Fridays are what I call my "face day." I have a lot of really productive meetings on Fridays in which I get to work with other people. On Saturdays, I take off a half-day (maybe the whole thing if I'm particularly mentally unbalanced), but then I start working at the computer again on Sunday.
So, do I live this way because I want to, or because the computing culture at my department forces me to? If this high school girl is so right on the mark, do I really feel like telling her that computer science is for girls, too? And not just girls. Can I honestly say, without lying through my diet coke stained teeth, to a roomful of extroverted people who want to work on teams and do interesting work without sitting in front of a computer all the time, that computer science is for THEM too?
I have no answer. I just go back and forth. Some days I just feel like a genderless machine. Other days, I feel I don't belong here. Other days, I'm ready to burn down the school if that's what it will take to get some attention on the issue of diversity in computer science.
All this back and forth, and I feel like Bea Arthur wrasslin' a velociraptor.