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Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing

Thomas J. Misa (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-59719-4
328 pages
July 2010, Wiley-IEEE Computer Society Press
Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing (0470597194) cover image


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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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xiii

Contributors xv


1 Gender Codes 3
Defining the Problem
Thomas J. Misa

2 Computer Science 25
The Incredible Shrinking Woman
Caroline Clarke Hayes

3 Masculinity and the Machine Man 51
Gender in the History of Data Processing
Thomas Haigh


4 A Gendered Job Carousel 75
Employment Effects of Computer Automation
Corinna Schlombs

5 Meritocracy and Feminization in Confl ict 95
Computerization in the British Government
Marie Hicks

6 Making Programming Masculine 115
Nathan Ensmenger

7 Gender and Computing in the Push-Button Library 143
Greg Downey


8 Cultural Perceptions of Computers in Norway 1980–2007 165
From "Anybody" Via "Male Experts" to "Everybody"
Hilde G. Corneliussen

9 Constructing Gender and Technology in Advertising Images 187
Feminine and Masculine Computer Parts
Aristotle Tympas, Hara Konsta, Theodore Lekkas, and Serkan Karas


10 The Pleasure Paradox 213
Bridging the Gap Between Popular Images of Computing and Women’s Historical Experiences
Janet Abbate

11 Programming Enterprise 229
Women Entrepreneurs in Software and Computer Services
Jeffrey R. Yost

12 Gender Codes 251
Lessons from History
Thomas J. Misa

13 Gender Codes 265
Prospects for Change
Caroline Clarke Hayes

Bibliography 275

Index 297

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Author Information

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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"This is a very valuable book in dispelling many of the myths about women and computing . . . For anyone interested in understanding why women are not attracted to the computing profession, including teachers and IT managers, this book is highly recommended. It provides an in-depth understanding of how and why
we are where we are." (Sex Roles, 2011)

"Gender Codes is an important book . . . this is a task in which the IEEE History Center can play a role, and we think our readers can and should as well-they can begin with reading this seminal book" (Bibliography, 1 March 2011)

"This book is an excellent introduction to some of the main themes, and there are many more chapters waiting to be written." (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 1 April 2011)

"Summing up: Recommended [for] all levels/libraries." (CHOICE, January 2011)

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