The latest issue of the journal Technology and Culture has a nice review by Carol Colatrella of an edited volume that I was fortunate to be a part of on the topic of women’s representation in the information technology fields. The book, Gender Codes: Why Women are Leaving Computing, was edited by Thomas J. Misa and grew out of a conference from a few years back held at the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota. Here’s the blurb:
Through engaging historical accounts, 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.
Providing a unique international perspective, the contributors to this unprecedented volume reveal how computing has become male-coded, highlighting the struggles women have faced in the office, the media, and in 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.
In her review, Colatrella, who is co-director of the Center for the Study of Women, Science, and Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, praised the book as “An ideal anthology to incorporate into a gender studies or STS course.” With my own chapter in the book focusing on the gender dynamics of the field of librarianship throughout its changing historical relationship to digital information technology, I’d add that Gender Codes might be useful reading for students in information, communication, or knowledge-production courses as well.