Programming was women's work: the six who ran Eniac, America's first digital computer, were women. But not for long.
They were systematically pushed out of the field, says technology historian Marie Hicks, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who wrote about it in her recent book, "Programmed Inequality (Amazon)."
Sexism was so extreme in the UK that it played a significant part in the collapse of its first domestic computer industry in the 1960s, writes the WSJ's Christopher Mims:
Not only were the male recruits often less qualified, they frequently left the field because they viewed it as an unmanly profession. A shortage of programmers forced the U.K. government to consolidate its computers in a handful of centers with the remaining coders. It also meant the government demanded gigantic mainframes and ignored more distributed systems of midsize and mini computers, which had become more common by the 1960s
In 1984, 37% of computer science degrees were awarded to women, but it's been in decline ever since. Women are leaving the industry in increasing numbers, "despite" its "diversity and inclusion efforts."
If a firm has hired its first 10 employees and they are all the same gender or ethnicity, an eleventh who doesn't look like the rest can face challenges.