The myth of “great men and their machines” perpetuates a reductionist version of the history of computer science, according to Ensmenger. Not only were the world’s first computer programmers women back in the 1940s, women made up roughly 26% of computer science professionals in 1960. Cosmopolitan magazine even ran an article in 1967 urging young women to consider careers as “Computer Girls.” But as the tech field grew in the mid-20th century, companies had to hire thousands of workers to fill computing jobs that had never before existed. Recruiters relied on personality analysis to find the best-suited workers. They assumed that the ideal computer programmer was a focused young man who was more interested in machines than in other people.


March 19, 2016

The myth of “great men and their machines” perpetuates a reductionist version of the history of computer science, according to Ensmenger. Not only were the world’s first computer programmers women back in the 1940s, women made up roughly 26% of computer science professionals in 1960. Cosmopolitan magazine even ran an article in 1967 urging young women to consider careers as “Computer Girls.” But as the tech field grew in the mid-20th century, companies had to hire thousands of workers to fill computing jobs that had never before existed. Recruiters relied on personality analysis to find the best-suited workers. They assumed that the ideal computer programmer was a focused young man who was more interested in machines than in other people.


March 19, 2016