When Computers Quit Women

Women and computers HERO

It seems the birth of the personal computer marks the death of technology as a career option for women. Or so says a recent NPR report.

NPR's Planet Money recently looked at the data of women in tech, and discovered that throughout the 1970s, computer science was one of the fastest-growing careers for women. But in the mid-1980s, the numbers started to crash—even as the percentages of women in other typically male-dominated fields, such as law and medicine, continued to climb.

So what happened? Some might say blame advertising. Right around the mid-80s, personal computers hit the market and were targeted almost exclusively to boys. And that narrative begat the geek boy genius as manifested in popular ‘80s movies like War Games, Real Genius and Weird Science. And just like that, computers evoked a male persona.

As you can see from the chart below, this gender-ization of technology has had some big effects that we’re still paying for today.

Women and computer science