New Book Examines Women's Exodus From Computing

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 9 August 2010 – Adding to the IEEE Computer Society’s ongoing conversations about women in computing, and specifically, about the drain of women out of the computing professions, the CS has just released Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing, edited by Thomas J. Misa.

Providing a unique international perspective, the book’s contributors reveal how computing has become male-coded, highlighting the struggles women have faced in the office, the media, and in the culture at large. The book assesses the existing intervention strategies and pinpoints why they are not working and what can—and must—be done to stall the exodus.

Gender Codes, published by the IEEE Computer Society Press in partnership with John Wiley & Sons, tells the stories of women programmers, systems analysts, managers, and IT executives who flooded this initially attractive field in the 1960s and '70s. It celebrates their notable successes in all segments of the industry. The book then examines why, while most other science and technology fields have seen steady growth in the number of female participants, the computing field experienced just the opposite.

"These essays hope to shed light on why computing changed -- and what can be done to revive computing's attraction as an inclusive field," said Misa. "We think that an unfortunately ’narrow image’ of computing has been propagated in the mass media, popular books, and films. This image could be changed for the better."

"This book gives voice to historians as well as practitioners – those who experienced the heyday, those who are trying to understand it, those who report it, and all who are trying to change it," wrote Linda Shafer, CSDP, Chair of the IEEE-CS Press Operating Committee, in the foreword.

Thomas Misa is director of the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota, where he also teaches in the Ph.D. program in the history of science, technology and medicine, is a faculty member in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and holds the ERA-Land Grant Chair in the History of Technology. He is author or editor of six books, including Leonardo to the Internet (Johns Hopkins 2004).

Purchasing information for Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing is available at the IEEE Computer Society’s online store, and CS members receive a 15 percent discount when ordering the book through John Wiley & Sons.

Women in the computing field can find other useful resources at http://www.computer.org/portal/web/membership/Women-in-Computing. Computer Society President James D. Isaak's blog post on Women in Computing is available at http://www.computer.org/portal/web/cspresident/1/-/blogs/women-in-computing.

About the IEEE Computer Society

With nearly 85,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals. Founded in 1946, and the largest of the 38 societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Computer Society is dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computer and information-processing technology, and is known globally for its computing standards activities. For more information, go to http://www.computer.org.

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