BY MARYANNE MAGNIER ’18
Last spring, Jean Sammet ’48, one of the first computer programmers ever, came to campus to give a talk. As a computer science minor, I eagerly attended in order to gain advice and insight about my field. During the talk, she shared information that stood out to me: The vast majority of the first computer programmers were women. Since, according to U.S. News, only around 18 percent of computer science majors today are women, I began to wonder when this changed. I stumbled upon an NPR Planet Money episode titled “When Women Stopped Coding.” When computers started becoming more common, they were marketed heavily toward men. In the 1980s, it was common for men to have grown up using computers. It was less so for women. Young men were often coming into classes with that advantage, and young women became discouraged by their obvious disadvantage of simply being less familiar with computers.