Women in Tech
Picture a Scientist
Please watch the film Picture a Scientist (1h 43 m). While the film profiles women in STEM in academic fields, many of the issues faced by these women are similar to issues faced in tech, as you'll see in the following readings.
Here are some points to reflect on:
- What can faculty and staff do to support an inclusive STEM environment at Middlebury?
- What can students do to support an inclusive STEM environment at Middlebury?
- What ideas do you have about ways to make science more inclusive for everyone?
- How did you feel after watching the film?
- Did anything surprise you? Why or Why not?
- Did this remind you of any issues in tech?
Women as Programmers Through History
Read "When Computers Were Women" by Jennifer S. Light. You can skip the section "Contemporary Accounts of ENIAC" if you wish (although it is still quite interesting) but please read the Conclusion (p. 481)
Also consider this 1967 quote from Grace Hopper, one of the founders of the field of computer science, who also happens to be a woman: "[Computer programming is] just like planning a dinner ….Programming requires patience and the ability to handle detail. Women are “naturals” at computer programming.” (From the women's magazine Cosmopolitan, in a piece meant to encourage women to enter the field of computer programming.)
Then consider an unfortunate modern take on women programmers, the (sexist and unscientific) infamous memo by Googler James Damore. You do not have to read the whole thing, but the section on "Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech" is the most relevant. Note: contains sexist statements about women and their abilities as programmers. (If you would like a thorough critique of the science in Damore's memo, I encourage you to read, "The Actual Science of James Damore’s Google Memo"by Megan Molteni and Adam Rogers from Wired.
In your reflection, consider
- Why at certain times in history, the job of programmer was considered women's work, and at other times considered men's work? What caused those changes?
- How was the framing of women's work vs. men's work justified at different times in history?
- Does this history change how you think about women in the role of computer programmers?