Women as computers

Typically when thinking of STEM fields, we tend to think of men working in these fields more so than women. Computer science was no different…..or so we thought!
Jennifer Light’s article sheds light on just how many women were working as human computers, during the war especially. Yet, despite the fact that there were more women in the workforce, that didn’t mean that they had equality with the male employees. One thing that stuck out to me most was the fact that as Light points out, when referencing women within scholarly research, rarely were the names listed of a women making contributions to the field. Typically, there were referred to as a group and their achievements were generalized.
Additionally, through women being in the workforce, the concept of a ‘women’s work’ came to be. This was especially apparent when looking at the difference between who could work on hardware and software. Hardware was thought to be a man’s job, whereas software was thought to be woman’s work. These are all differences that are still apparent today, especially when computer science still being predominantly male.

Sophomore year, when I took computer science courses here at UMW, I was shocked when I walked into my intro class and there were more than five girls other than myself in there. I always found it interesting that whenever it came time to do a project, one of the guys would always offer to help me out as he assumed that he was better at the subject than myself. Jokes on him, I always got higher grades.
It’s interesting how back then, and even today, despite the massive strides that women made in the computing world, the perceived difference in ability due to one’s gender is still present.

Light, Jennifer S.Technology and Culture; Baltimore Vol. 40, Iss. 3,  (Jul 1999): 455-483.https://search-proquest-com.umw.idm.oclc.org/docview/198455336/fulltext/BE773ED481094C37PQ/1?accountid=12299 

2 thoughts on “Women as computers

  1. I like how you related our reading to your own personal experience. I think many people believe that women still don’t face discrimination in STEM disciplines. I’m glad that today we read resources that highlighted the contributions of women. Happy Women’s History Month!

  2. I like how you connected this subject to modern times and your own experiences. Today, even the use of computers for activities that are more of hobbies rather than work is also thought of as being dominated by males. While Ada Lovelace was ahead of her time and made great strides as a woman, she seemed to face less obstacles than the women discussed in this article because, by this time, the initial development of the computer industry had already begun.

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