According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women held just 25 percent of professional computing jobs in the US in 2015. How damaging is this gender gap to the future of the tech industry?
The rise and fall of Britain’s electronic computing industry between 1944–1974 holds clues. In her book, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing, historian Marie Hicks explores how gender discrimination, changing labor demographics, and government policy during this 30-year period shaped the UK’s path in computing. She also explains how this path had detrimental economic effects on the UK—and why the US may be facing similar risks today.
Dr. Marie Hicks sits down with David C. Brock, Director of the Museum’s Center for Software History, to share insights from her book.
Hicks received her BA from Harvard University and her MA and PhD from Duke University. Before entering academia, she worked as a UNIX systems administrator. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work focuses on how gender and sexuality bring hidden technological dynamics to light and how women’s experiences change the core narratives of the history of computing.