Reviewer Lauds ‘Gender Codes’ for Explaining Why Women are Leaving Computing

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 30 September 2011 – The IEEE Computer Society Press book Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing is being credited as making “a major contribution” toward understanding why women are steering clear of the computing field and gravitating to other sciences.

Edited by Thomas J. Misa and available through co-publisher John Wiley & Sons, Gender Codes 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.

In her review of the book in the August issue of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, Jinx Walton notes that by the mid-to-late-1980s, women earned 37 percent of all computing bachelor degrees and comprised fully 38 percent of the computing white-collar workforce. However, by 2005, the percentages had decreased to 15 percent and 27 percent respectively.

“This is a very valuable book in dispelling many of the myths about women and computing. By recovering the history of women’s earlier engagement with computing and the significant levels of success they achieved, an effort can be made to recover the attitudes and perspectives from the past in an attempt to make the profession again accepting,” wrote Walton, CIO at the University of Pittsburgh.

“The IEEE Computer Society has performed a real service with this collection in terms of deepening the historical context of the issue,” Walton added.

Misa is director of the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota, where he also teaches in the PhD 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).

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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