After having my car keyed during the Bush era for a pro-president bumper sticker, I have avoided those with political slogans.

As I live in California, in a veritable sea of soccer mom mobiles, having a distinguishing feature on my Honda is critical. So I chose “Star Trek Valedictorian”.

Eastman Original

Little did I realize even that was political.

The top librarian at MIT recently argued that to make tech workplaces more inclusive and welcoming to women, ditch “Star Trek” posters and other geeky stuff cluttering office walls.

“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 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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

Bourg made the comments during her recent keynote address to the code{4}lib convention in Washington D.C, according to a post on her blog.

I had to double check the spelling in the librarians name: Is it really Bourg or Borg?. It turns out that about whether she is human or cyborg isn’t the only source of confusion, either.

Since my gender has been misidentified too many times to ignore, let me make it very clear here: I am a cis woman. I was assigned female at birth, identify now as female, and use feminine pronouns. I also identify as butch and queer. Years ago, when a rather well-known trans scholar asked me “Are you trans in any way?”, I was flattered; but I don’t identify as trans. Again for the search engines: If you are wondering “what gender is Chris Bourg?”, the answer is female.

There is so much to blast with Bourg’s assertion that I hardly know where to begin…so I will start with me. I have been a fan of the sci-fi series since I was a little girl. I hung several of those “offensive” posters myself (including this classic):

I have degrees in chemistry, geology and biochemistry.  I was also surrounded by male “nerds” who were extremely supportive of my scholarship and subsequent profession.

Beyond my personal experience, let’s review the fact that this is “Women’s History Month”. Bourg has clearly forgotten that Star Trek women have inspired young girls to consider STEM degrees and technical professions. Here is the data to prove my assertion:

My son has inherited my love of Star Trek. One of the biggest compliments he gave me was that I reminded him of Captain Janeway. Here is Janeway’s take on the Borg.

My son is now a sophomore who has a passion for physics (he does calculus for fun). The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of his top picks for college, and I would prefer he and his posters go to a place where there is real tolerance and appreciation for the iconic and classic works of science fiction.

MIT may want to consider what supporting Bourg’s stance might mean to future enrollment. Do its administrators really want serious scholars or social justice warriors?

Finally, I assert that attacking the posters in the name of feminism creates a hostile work environment for men. Subsequently, it will eventually mean that women who can handle sci-fi and fantasy posters may miss opportunities because feminist Borgs have contaminated the workplace atmosphere.

Should my son be accepted and go to MIT, I will have to get a set of Star Trek and other geek posters for his dorm room.


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