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When Women Stopped Coding

Stashed in: Interconnectedness!, Women, Software!, Awesome, History of Tech!, XX, History of Tech, Girls Who Code, Grace Hopper, Women in Tech, STEM

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Personal computers and an emphasis on "fun" computing led to the decline of female programmers very quickly and eventually the rise of the brogrammer. I totally feel this one because I've never liked games -- I'm a younger child and my older brother always beat me at everything -- and the emphasis on games as THE way to learn programming when I was a kid put me off for years until the rise of the World Wide Web and what the Panda calls Intertwinglyness.

Well said, Joyce. 

I believe the central point of the article, which is that PCs unleveled the playing field. 

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?

We spent the past few weeks trying to answer this question, and there's no clear, single answer.

But here's a good starting place: The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers.

These early personal computers weren't much more than toys. You could play pong or simple shooting games, maybe do some word processing. And these toys were marketed almost entirely to men and boys.

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