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When Women Stopped Coding.


Planet Money's "When Women Stopped Coding" is a 20 minute listen, but it's worth your time. If nothing else, check out the short except at

One of the most interesting points in this article was that there was a secret prerequisite to college computer courses: knowing computers - from installing software to understanding how to maintain and troubleshoot the machines. Those who had previous access to computers (probably having had one at home as children) only had to learn programming, while everyone else had to learn somewhat advanced computing skills on top of learning programming.

Since I was commonly on free or reduced-price school lunches as a kid, my family ought to have been way too poor to have a computer at home. But one year my mom used using the magic of the tax refund "savings plan" to bring a 386 running Windows 3.0 home. Having this (and follow-on models) at home no doubt played a large part in getting me where I am today - a professional web developer.

Even though I grew up in the 1980s, I didn't perceive any "outsiderness" to girls and women using computers and technology. Perhaps this was because we didn't have cable, and I did a lot less watching TV than reading - where I could more easily imagine myself in any role I wanted. Or perhaps this was because I was the oldest sister in a family of girls; there were no brothers or father at home to allow simple gender-based role assignment.

For further reading, see Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing


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