Let’s get over it already

I remember this moment with my youngest daughter.



“Why is Data a boy?”

We were watching “Star Trek:  The Next Generation” at the time.  To be honest, I never had thought about it at the time.  When pressed, I couldn’t come up with a good  answer other than “it’s just a show”.  Today, she’ll admit to loving the show and will also confess that The Simpsons was instrumental in raising her as well.  Of course, key to this raising were the one liners from Comic Book Guy.  The character here was never questioned.

When you think about it, the characters and their roles were carefully scripted by the authors.

It’s been a long time since I was challenged in this way.

But a week or so ago, I was doing my morning reading and saw this article.  “How the IT Guy Became the “It Guy”: The Evolving Portrayal of Tech Professionals in Movies and Television“.  I read the article with real interest.  There were many characters included in the article that, I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of before.

The one thing that struck me was that most of the examples were dated.  I thought it was an interesting case of early depiction of IT people when knowing your way around a keyboard and a system were sort of an oddity and, while society relied on their skills, media used the opportunity to create characters based upon real and contrived attributes of these people.

I figured that I might have the opportunity to do something with this some day so I did what I normally do with articles like this – shared it to Twitter which resulted in it being tucked away in my Diigo account.  I gave it no further thought until the challenge came.

What ensured was an interesting discussion about stereotypes, dog walking, and ultimately a sharing of pet pictures.

If you check Gina’s profile, you’ll see why this one article struck her so much.  We have the media to blame for the history behind the development of the “IT Guy”.  Where else has the media been taken to task lately?

Fortunately, things have most changed but some of the stereotypes still linger.  I’m sure that television viewers have the image of the “IT Guy” coming in to fix a computer in a popular office supply company commercial.  I shudder when I see it; I thought that we’d got past that. 

Some have, and that’s great.

My lovely daughter posted this to prove it…

In schools, we still struggle with making computing opportunities appealing to all.  It’s a reminder to all that the choice of topics and resources is so important. 

In media, there has to be better things to characterize.  Let’s get over his and put it behind us. 

Today’s trivia – who is the voice as the Sphero app is loading?


One comment

  1. You made me think with this one. I am trying, so far without success, to get some girls out to my after-school coding club. Many of my students of both genders do amazing work in our in-class coding, but so far, the after school bunch is all boys, even with specific invitations to some of my girls. I’m happy that they know that I’m the “techie” teacher in the building, and that the other person who wears that hat in our space is also a woman. However, we have yet to have a woman as our “IT” person, who comes to fix the stuff that I can’t, or to work on system-related problems/rollouts. Interesting….

    As for Sphero’s voice? My own boys laughed themselves silly the first time it talked to me,and I stared at it, and then immediately had to Google to double-check that it really was Brent Spiner talking to me (we had just watched an arc of Star Trek: Enterprise with him guest-starring)! It’s a perfect touch that adds value to Sphero for me, and always makes me smile.


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