NPR: '80s ads are responsible for the lack of women coders

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Daniel Cooper
October 21st, 2014
NPR: '80s ads are responsible for the lack of women coders

Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as in medicine, law or science. But in 1984, the number of females majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and is now as low as 20 percent compared to those other three. It's a surprising trend that NPR's Planet Money has uncovered, and the show's latest episode seeks to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy," and combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the novel Hackers, as well as movies like WarGames and Weird Science, the knock-on effect was to exclude women. It wasn't long before those female computer science majors decided to switch programs to ones where they weren't made to feel inferior, and while there are now signs of recovery, you have to wonder if those same decisions aren't the cause of the current toxic environment for women in technology. If you'd like to hear the show, we've got it embedded after the break.

[Image Credit: Quoctrung Bui/NPR]

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