Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Mar 2017 19:57 UTC
General Development

Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn't always been this way.

A lot of computing pioneers - the people who programmed the first digital computers - were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising.

What happened?

An older article from 2014 that - sadly - just refuses to become irrelevant.

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RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by Wondercool on Tue 28th Mar 2017 12:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
Wondercool
Member since:
2005-07-08

@Unclefester

Why was it 50-50 though in the 70's? What caused the decline? Your assertion that women and men have different brains can't be an explanation as before the 90's women *did* participate in IT a lot more than now. Unless you think that womens and/or mens brains have changed only in the last 30 years?

@mramsey


Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were by then celebrities and millionaires, computers had become hip, and seen as a new path to wealth beyond law, medicine, finance, and sales, all male dominated at that point.
- The emergence of Computer Science as a standalone field (and the notion that a CS degree was necessary to program), with (mostly male) professors often coming from EE backgrounds.
- The emergence of the hacker/nerd culture that was, from the beginning, not terribly female friendly.
- The slow decline of the mainframe and minicomputer industries on the US east coast, the rise of workstation and PC industries on the west coast, and the accompanying changes in corporate culture.


Except for the emergence of hacker culture, I don't see why this would lead to a decline in women programmers. Can you elaborate a bit more? Especially , what does Jobs and Gates wealth and status to do with a decline? Wouldn't it be an incentive to join the IT industry for anyone?

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by Alfman on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:11 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Wondercool,

Why was it 50-50 though in the 70's? What caused the decline? Your assertion that women and men have different brains can't be an explanation as before the 90's women *did* participate in IT a lot more than now. Unless you think that womens and/or mens brains have changed only in the last 30 years?


Given that this predates my own experience, I have an honest question: do we have any evidence that men and women were 50/50 in the same roles? It seems quite possible that while they were working in the same industry, their roles might have been just as sexist as today, doing punch cards is roughly equivalent to modern secretaries doing data entry.

A picture says a thousand words:
http://www.officemuseum.com/1942%20Key-Punching%20Checks~*~...


So I don't know if there is evidence to suggest that there was a significant "decline" in role ratios, perhaps it was instead a decline in female dominated roles. Thoughts?

Edited 2017-03-28 14:26 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by mramsey
by Wondercool on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:42 in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by mramsey"
Wondercool Member since:
2005-07-08

Looking at some more statistics, you might have hit something.

This link shows the number of bachelor degrees since the 70s (in computer science)

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_349.asp

It looks like early 70s women participation was low, rising to it's highest in middle of the 80s and slowly declining again. Of course programmers != computer science degrees but surely there is a relationship?

I got my info (and they state a few more reasons why women participation dwindled) from

www.computerscience.org/resources/women-in-computer-science/

Reply Parent Score: 2