Like the article Making Programming Masculine says, “It wasn’t that women were uninterested in computing, or unprepared or constitutionally disinclined to participate, the historical evidence seemed to suggest, but rather that their participation had been systematically ignored or under-reported” (p.7). While reading the this article, I was reminded of Roberta and her role in Part Four of The Bug. Roberta was initially a tester in The Bug, but when the programming support was needed, she trained herself as a programmer with the video tutorials. She began understanding and really enjoying the fundamentals of programming, then was later able to work with Ethan to break down his program code by code and look at the whole picture and understand his code concepts that were not commonly understood by many programmers, let alone a self-taught woman in the field with no technological background. This compliments the article when it states, “women [were] able to break into the entry levels of the profession, but they were often able to claw their way to its highest pinnacles” (p.3).
Roberta eventually surpasses Ethan, once he gives up altogether, by going through the core report and all of the associated code, and finally finding the source of the error, and what made it a ‘jester.’ She goes on to succeed in the field via promotions to managing and direction positions, as this article explained was possible.
I am curious to see if others agree with the argument on p.18, that once the aptitude test qualities were centered around “logical,” “detached,” and “anti-social” characteristics -found in good programmers, and also stereotypically male characteristics- caused the turning point for the inflow of women into the programming field to mostly males.
This clip from NPR (it’s just a few minutes long) goes into a brief history of the first computers, but it reinforces some of the points made in Making Programming Masculine. I find it interesting in the article, when it quotes Grace Hopper explaining why women may have had an advantage for the art of programming: “Programming was ‘just like planning a dinner…You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so it’s ready when you need it. Programming requires patience and the ability to handle detail. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming’” (p.1). Although saying that women were “natural” at it because they were the ones making all the dinners seems a sexist conclusion, at the time this was almost an accepted fact. Even Roberta believes, in Part Four, that many women are predisposed to do well at programming because the have necessary skills such as attention to detail, planning, patience, and an understanding of the need for precision.