MathQED News

Women pioneered computer programming. Then men took their industry over.

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Posted on: September 2, 2019

In 1945, Jean Bartik heard about a new job, working with something called ENIAC. She was not sure what the work involved.  However, she took it, hoping to get in on the ground floor with a new technology.

ENIAC was the first large-scale electronic computer.   It could do trajectory calculations much faster.  Men designed ENIAC.  But the grueling and tedious task of creating programs for it was considered “women’s work,” similar to clerical labor.

“Men were interested in building the hardware,” historian Walter Isaacson reported to NPR. “Doing the circuits, figuring out the machinery. And women were very good mathematicians back then.” However, women’s work was not glamorous and did not pay very well. 

This content was originally published here.