Imagine a “typical” programmer! Perhaps, you’ve thought of a male computer geek in the big glasses with a four-week beard, who’s an anti-social and spending hours in front of the screen coding hieroglyphs.

Apparently, it’s a stereotype, however, namely this makes hiring managers tend to favour male applicants, when women are put in the position that make them stop pursuing careers in programming. They merely feel they won’t fit in that “frame.”

According to recent Stack Overflow research, 92.1 per cent of all respondents identified themselves predominantly as males, while only five per cent identified as females.

However, recently IT industry was mostly dominated by women. What happened and why did women stop pursue their careers in IT?

MYLE team has written an article consisted of two parts dedicated to #HourOfCode, to shed light on this important issue related to women’s image in IT industry.

Have women influenced the IT industry?

Ask yourself again, Who was the first programmer? Probably most of you thought either about a male (obviously) or hadn’t any idea at all.

Ada Lovelace, who was born in London on Dec. 10, 1815, is considered to be a first computer programmer. Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, described her as “Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it,” or, as “The Enchantress of Numbers.”

Lovelace theorised a concept for the engine to repeat a series of instructions, a process known as looping that computer programmes use today.

Lovelace wasn’t only one key figure in the programming history. Unfortunately, we can’t write about all of the female programmers, unless you ask us about it, but we’ll share with you a few female programmers who influenced computer industry.

Kathleen Booth was the first programmer to create one of the first assembly languages. This language made programming easier by writing machine instructions in mnemonic form that an assembler would translate into machine code.

Kateryna Yushchenko was the first woman in USSR to be awarded Dr. of Physical and Mathematical Sciences in programming. She applied her experience in operating Small Electronic Calculating Machine (MESM) to develop one of the world’s first high-level languages with indirect addressability in programming, called the “Address language.” It provided a free location in the computer memory.

The last female programmer we’re going to write you about is Adele Goldberg. She was a key figure in the development of Smalltalk System; a project leading by Alan Kay at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC). The idea behind this computer language was that everyone would – with a minimum knowledge of programming – be able to create applications. In 1979, Steve Jobs and his team asked Goldberg to give him a demo of Samlltalk and its graphical-user-interface (GUI), which afterwards impacted the design of Apple’s Macintosh desktop. Also, Smalltalk had an enormous influence on many other languages as Python, Objective-C and Java.

If you want to learn more about women in computer science then listen to this short four minute podcast produced by NRP.

Why did women become a minority in IT industry?

We assume you wonder, How did women become the minority despite the fact that they had such a tremendous impact on IT world?  

In the 1960s, computer programming was a career choice for the majority of young women. According to Brenda Frink, a social and cultural historian, even Cosmopolitan Magazine had been convincing its fashionable female audience to pursue a career in programming. In their article titled “The Computer Girls,” they described computer programming jobs as the better career choice for women than many other occupations.

cosmo-girls

According to many findings, one of the reasons that computer programming became masculine-dominated field is the cultural image of the women in society. In other words, many managers used to think of programming as a low-skill clerical/secretary occupation as a typist, a telephone operator or an office assistant. So they (managers) thought that women fit this field perfectly because it required the minimal level of “brain work.”

However, as programming began to be a more complex task, most of the companies started to hire and train men as computer programmers. Further, the male began to create professional associations, where they highly discouraged women to enter this field.

We will continue to analyze the reasons why women have left the IT industry in the next part. Stay tuned and check our blog tomorrow.

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