Melbourne, Apr 30 : Forget people, it looks like school subjects are also being subject to traditional stereotypes - at least Down Under.
According to a new survey, female students are dropping out of computer studies in droves, partly because their mothers are telling them it is "nerdy" and masculine.
The survey has shown only 13 per cent of female NSW (New South Wales) Year 10 students plan to study the subject in senior high school.
NSW now faces losing a generation of talented students from computing and information technology (CIT) at a time of serious skills shortages.
Three years of research by the University of Western Sydney shows tech-savvy girls switch off the subject at school and fail to make it a career.
They are discouraged by the traditional stereotype of a "male, socially inept computer programmer working 24/7 in isolation and in intense connection with his computer terminal".
"My mum told me it's really hard for a woman because it's such a male-dominated thing," News.com.au quoted one secondary student, as saying.
Interest levels among females plummet from Year 9 onwards - and never recover.
In a survey of Year 10 students in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, only 94 out of 739 girls indicated they would study CIT in their senior years.
One school bucking the trend, Burwood Girls High in Sydney's west, has increased technology-based courses.
Teacher Hewlett Field said her girls understood how important the subject would be to their working lives.
"When they pick up IT in Year 11 they cannot wait to get their hands on the hardware," she said.
Margaret Vickers from UWS's Centre for Educational Research said schools needed to encourage more students into computing subjects with a modernized and flexible curriculum.
"There is a definite gap between the computing tasks that students carry out at home and the basic and repetitive tasks they are able or allowed to do at school. There is a long-standing misconception that women lack the technical skills to succeed in the industry which is further influenced by the low numbers of females teaching CIT subjects," she said.