Programmed Inequality, new book by Mar Hicks

A review of a new book on the history of women in UK computing industries. The book is called Programmed Inequality by Marie Hicks.

“By the 1950s, both government and commercial agencies were waking up to the huge potential of automated data processing. What could have been an explosive opportunity for female employment was marred by dangerously antiquated management. For example, the Civil Service had a growing need for punched card and calculating machine operators, yet by forming a class of “machine operators”, Hicks tells us, it sought to create a “job category designed to deskill workers and depress wages” – a population she describes as a “feminised underclass”.

Sadly, sexism in the computer industry did not end with the 1960s. As late as the 1980s, “professional” trade shows in the UK still used scantily clad young women as marketing gimmicks on their stands – where they were subject to a range of demeaning duties.”

Also, 20 years later the same thing was happening at SIGGRAPH. I worked at NVidia in 2002 and people would pass around renderings of naked fairy characters to demo the graphics card capabilities. Permanent state of ugh. -li

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