Women in Coding

Women in Coding

The protagonist of my novel The Halting Problem is a woman programmer at MIT in 1990. My own career has been in IT, and I was a programmer myself early on (albeit a mediocre one, so I went into management!). And as a person in the field I was aware of the change that happened around that moment, when suddenly there were fewer women entering the field.

A great article in the NY Times yesterday, “The Secret History of Women in Coding,” tells much of the underlying story. As it turns out 1984 was the high water mark, when 37.1% of students graduating with IT degrees were women. But by 2010 it had fallen to an abysmal 17.6%.

There are a number of sociocultural reasons for this that the article outlines, but the real tragedy is the dominance of “bro culture” in many software companies, and an unsurprising list of sexual harassment cases at companies like Google.

It was interesting writing about the gender and power politics at that moment in time, and to recognize that little has changed. That, ironically, it’s actually gotten worse.


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