Women In Computing

In issue no. 9 of Lady Science, Joy Rankin discussed how women are misrepresented in the field of computer science. This topic is actually something that I have questioned myself and have recently discovered that women have had significant contributions to the field of computing. Rankin mentions the show Silicon Valley in the beginning of her article, this is what caught my attention immediately because that is one of my favorite TV shows currently. However, as Rankin pointed out, the show stars a young male who starts a company with three other men. Monica, the most prominent female in that show, has barely any contribution to the company except for showing the company’s idea to her boss, who is suppose to be somewhat of a representation of Steve Jobs. The show definitely does not do females any justice because it gives the appearance that Silicon Valley is just a bunch of male nerds.

After reading the articles on Lady Science on this issue, I was surprised how clear of an impact  women have had on the field of computer science, especially during World War II. Rankin cites the historian Jennifer Light who has shown that computer were essentially women during the war. In one of Light’s works she explains the contributions of women in the development in the ENIAC. The ENIAC was the first general electronic computer that was used primarily to calculate artillery fire tables for the US army. I found this surprising as well because when it comes to the US army during World War II men are the presumed subjects who fight and contribute to war; whereas women were considered supporters for the most part.  I found this and the fact that nearly half of the people in the computer science industry were women at this time to be very interesting.

Computer Science has definitely had a male dominant view, however there are many great female scientists, my own sister has committed and graduated with a degree in computer science and now currently works at Amazon. She, and historians like Rankin, show the women have and still are working to make their presence more dominant. Although men such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have cast a huge shadow on silicon valley, females have had an equal impact.

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