A new explanation for tech’s pathetic gender diversity: The personal computer
Barbara Ericson gets quoted in this interesting piece in Salon.com. I think that there were multiple things that happened at once. The PC also led to a boom in enrollment, which (Eric Robert argues) led to a raising of standards to reduce load on teachers, which had an inhibitory effect on gender and ethnic/racial diversity in computing.
NPR’s Planet Money just had a piece (quoting Jane Margolis) where they explore this angle, that having a PC became a necessity to succeed in CS classes, and the PC was a “boy’s toy.” See here for the NPR piece.
The PC, and a decade later, the Internet, changed all that. Silicon Valley became a destination not just for the engineering-minded, but also for the profit-seeking. People motivated by money are different than people motivated by science. It’s always dangerous to venture too far into the minefields of gender-based determination, but it seems at least possible that the arrival of a generation of testosterone-fueled, super aggressive men who saw computers primarily as a way to get rich ended up creating a less welcoming atmosphere for women. Silicon Valley became more sexist because it became more about money and power, and less about actually doing something interesting and useful.