If you were hacking since age 8, it means you were privileged. | Geek Feminism Blog
The argument being posed here is a natural step from the one made by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers. If Bill Gates and Bill Joy got a leg up in the IT industry because of their early exposure to computing, then it stands to reason that those demographic groups who get access to computing first get a similar leg up on success. Race and gender play a role in who gets access to computing first.
While that’s all true, I don’t think that access is the whole story. As my earlier post today on digital natives points out, having access to technology doesn’t equate with thinking about it as more than a consumer of the technology. While access to technology is a necessary condition for that leg up on success, it’s not sufficient.
A child’s gender modulates how her parents invest in their child’s education, as mentioned earlier. For example, girls, on average, typically receive their first computer at age 19, as opposed to boys at age 15. Note that age 19 is no longer high school, but university, when undergraduates have already chosen their major. If women typically receive their first computer as adults, and boys typically receive their first computer as children, then of course there is going to be a gender gap in CS enrollment.
Computer geek culture generally ignores issues of class privilege and male privilege when it comes to computer access, upholding a ranking system that mistakes the social privileges of affluent white males for inborn geek inclinations.