The Computer Girls?

In a recent talk that I gave at Stanford University, I discussed the changing role of women in the computing industry.   The focus of the talk was a 1967 article in Cosmopolitan Magazine called “The Computer Girls”.  An unusual source for a historian of computing, but one of my favorite and most useful.   My particular favorite: a quote from the celebrated computer pioneer Admiral Grace Hopper comparing computer programming to following a recipe: “You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so it’s ready when you need it. Programming requires patience and the ability to handle detail. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.”


9 thoughts on “The Computer Girls?”

  1. This may be true, but when I was in college for Computer Science, in all my computer classes, I had maybe five women in those classes. Tops.

    It’s very hard to find women in IT. But of the ones I’ve met, they’ve all been very good!

  2. I know this is an old post but I can’t help but notice that number of girls in computer science are gradually rising in Asia too, especially in Singapore. In NUS and NTU, I am seeing a lot more girls than before taking CS and Information System courses. A great thing, I reckon.

    1. There was an interesting piece in the Economist recently about the exceptional number of tech entrepreneurs in the Arab world. Not quite the same thing as computer programmers, but a similar example of how the lack of an established culture and stereotype/expectations can lead to very different levels of participation.

      CONFERENCES on start-ups, the old joke goes, are the only events where there is never a queue for the ladies’ room. Only 10% of internet entrepreneurs across the world are women, according to Startup Compass, a firm that tracks such things.

      Except in Amman and other Middle Eastern cities, it seems. There, the share of women entrepreneurs is said to average 35%—an estimate seemingly confirmed by the mix of the sexes at “Mix‘n’Mentor”, a recent gathering in the Jordanian capital organised by Wamda, a service provider for start-ups.

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