Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing

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The computing profession faces a serious gender crisis. Today, fewer women enter computing than anytime in the past 25 years. This book provides an unprecedented look at the history of women and men in computing, detailing how the computing profession emerged and matured, and how the field became male coded. Women's experiences working in offices, education, libraries, programming, and government are examined for clues on how and where women succeeded—and where they struggled. It also provides a unique international dimension with studies examining the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Norway, and Greece. Scholars in history, gender/women's studies, and science and technology studies, as well as department chairs and hiring directors will find this volume illuminating.
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About the author

THOMAS J. MISA is at the University of Minnesota, where he directs the Charles Babbage Institute, teaches in the graduate program for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and is a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Sep 14, 2011
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9781118035139
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Language
English
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Genres
Computers / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The untold history of women and computing: how pioneering women succeeded in a field shaped by gender biases.

Today, women earn a relatively low percentage of computer science degrees and hold proportionately few technical computing jobs. Meanwhile, the stereotype of the male “computer geek” seems to be everywhere in popular culture. Few people know that women were a significant presence in the early decades of computing in both the United States and Britain. Indeed, programming in postwar years was considered woman's work (perhaps in contrast to the more manly task of building the computers themselves). In Recoding Gender, Janet Abbate explores the untold history of women in computer science and programming from the Second World War to the late twentieth century. Demonstrating how gender has shaped the culture of computing, she offers a valuable historical perspective on today's concerns over women's underrepresentation in the field.

Abbate describes the experiences of women who worked with the earliest electronic digital computers: Colossus, the wartime codebreaking computer at Bletchley Park outside London, and the American ENIAC, developed to calculate ballistics. She examines postwar methods for recruiting programmers, and the 1960s redefinition of programming as the more masculine “software engineering.” She describes the social and business innovations of two early software entrepreneurs, Elsie Shutt and Stephanie Shirley; and she examines the career paths of women in academic computer science.

Abbate's account of the bold and creative strategies of women who loved computing work, excelled at it, and forged successful careers will provide inspiration for those working to change gendered computing culture.

Communities of Computing is the first book-length history of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), founded in 1947 and with a membership today of 100,000 worldwide. It profiles ACM's notable SIGs, active chapters, and individual members, setting ACM's history into a rich social and political context. The book's 12 core chapters are organized into three thematic sections. "Defining the Discipline" examines the 1960s and 1970s when the field of computer science was taking form at the National Science Foundation, Stanford University, and through ACM's notable efforts in education and curriculum standards. "Broadening the Profession" looks outward into the wider society as ACM engaged with social and political issues - and as members struggled with balancing a focus on scientific issues and awareness of the wider world.

Chapters examine the social turbulence surrounding the Vietnam War, debates about the women's movement, efforts for computing and community education, and international issues including professionalization and the Cold War. "Expanding Research Frontiers" profiles three areas of research activity where ACM members and ACM itself shaped notable advances in computing, including computer graphics, computer security, and hypertext.

Featuring insightful profiles of notable ACM leaders, such as Edmund Berkeley, George Forsythe, Jean Sammet, Peter Denning, and Kelly Gotlieb, and honest assessments of controversial episodes, the volume deals with compelling and complex issues involving ACM and computing. It is not a narrow organizational history of ACM committees and SIGS, although much information about them is given. All chapters are original works of research. Many chapters draw on archival records of ACM's headquarters, ACM SIGs, and ACM leaders. This volume makes a permanent contribution to documenting the history of ACM and understanding its central role in the history of computing.

Communities of Computing is the first book-length history of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), founded in 1947 and with a membership today of 100,000 worldwide. It profiles ACM's notable SIGs, active chapters, and individual members, setting ACM's history into a rich social and political context. The book's 12 core chapters are organized into three thematic sections. "Defining the Discipline" examines the 1960s and 1970s when the field of computer science was taking form at the National Science Foundation, Stanford University, and through ACM's notable efforts in education and curriculum standards. "Broadening the Profession" looks outward into the wider society as ACM engaged with social and political issues - and as members struggled with balancing a focus on scientific issues and awareness of the wider world.

Chapters examine the social turbulence surrounding the Vietnam War, debates about the women's movement, efforts for computing and community education, and international issues including professionalization and the Cold War. "Expanding Research Frontiers" profiles three areas of research activity where ACM members and ACM itself shaped notable advances in computing, including computer graphics, computer security, and hypertext.

Featuring insightful profiles of notable ACM leaders, such as Edmund Berkeley, George Forsythe, Jean Sammet, Peter Denning, and Kelly Gotlieb, and honest assessments of controversial episodes, the volume deals with compelling and complex issues involving ACM and computing. It is not a narrow organizational history of ACM committees and SIGS, although much information about them is given. All chapters are original works of research. Many chapters draw on archival records of ACM's headquarters, ACM SIGs, and ACM leaders. This volume makes a permanent contribution to documenting the history of ACM and understanding its central role in the history of computing.

Communities of Computing is the first book-length history of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), founded in 1947 and with a membership today of 100,000 worldwide. It profiles ACM's notable SIGs, active chapters, and individual members, setting ACM's history into a rich social and political context. The book's 12 core chapters are organized into three thematic sections. "Defining the Discipline" examines the 1960s and 1970s when the field of computer science was taking form at the National Science Foundation, Stanford University, and through ACM's notable efforts in education and curriculum standards. "Broadening the Profession" looks outward into the wider society as ACM engaged with social and political issues - and as members struggled with balancing a focus on scientific issues and awareness of the wider world.

Chapters examine the social turbulence surrounding the Vietnam War, debates about the women's movement, efforts for computing and community education, and international issues including professionalization and the Cold War. "Expanding Research Frontiers" profiles three areas of research activity where ACM members and ACM itself shaped notable advances in computing, including computer graphics, computer security, and hypertext.

Featuring insightful profiles of notable ACM leaders, such as Edmund Berkeley, George Forsythe, Jean Sammet, Peter Denning, and Kelly Gotlieb, and honest assessments of controversial episodes, the volume deals with compelling and complex issues involving ACM and computing. It is not a narrow organizational history of ACM committees and SIGS, although much information about them is given. All chapters are original works of research. Many chapters draw on archival records of ACM's headquarters, ACM SIGs, and ACM leaders. This volume makes a permanent contribution to documenting the history of ACM and understanding its central role in the history of computing.

Communities of Computing is the first book-length history of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), founded in 1947 and with a membership today of 100,000 worldwide. It profiles ACM's notable SIGs, active chapters, and individual members, setting ACM's history into a rich social and political context. The book's 12 core chapters are organized into three thematic sections. "Defining the Discipline" examines the 1960s and 1970s when the field of computer science was taking form at the National Science Foundation, Stanford University, and through ACM's notable efforts in education and curriculum standards. "Broadening the Profession" looks outward into the wider society as ACM engaged with social and political issues - and as members struggled with balancing a focus on scientific issues and awareness of the wider world.

Chapters examine the social turbulence surrounding the Vietnam War, debates about the women's movement, efforts for computing and community education, and international issues including professionalization and the Cold War. "Expanding Research Frontiers" profiles three areas of research activity where ACM members and ACM itself shaped notable advances in computing, including computer graphics, computer security, and hypertext.

Featuring insightful profiles of notable ACM leaders, such as Edmund Berkeley, George Forsythe, Jean Sammet, Peter Denning, and Kelly Gotlieb, and honest assessments of controversial episodes, the volume deals with compelling and complex issues involving ACM and computing. It is not a narrow organizational history of ACM committees and SIGS, although much information about them is given. All chapters are original works of research. Many chapters draw on archival records of ACM's headquarters, ACM SIGs, and ACM leaders. This volume makes a permanent contribution to documenting the history of ACM and understanding its central role in the history of computing.

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