Programmed Inequality : How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing

Programmed Inequality : How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing

Description

How Britain lost its early dominance in computing by systematically discriminating against its most qualified workers: women.

In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. What happened in the intervening thirty years holds lessons for all postindustrial superpowers. As Britain struggled to use technology to retain its global power, the nation's inability to manage its technical labor force hobbled its transition into the information age.

In Programmed Inequality, Marie Hicks explores the story of labor feminization and gendered technocracy that undercut British efforts to computerize. That failure sprang from the government's systematic neglect of its largest trained technical workforce simply because they were women. Women were a hidden engine of growth in high technology from World War II to the 1960s. As computing experienced a gender flip, becoming male-identified in the 1960s and 1970s, labor problems grew into structural ones and gender discrimination caused the nation's largest computer user-the civil service and sprawling public sector-to make decisions that were disastrous for the British computer industry and the nation as a whole.

Drawing on recently opened government files, personal interviews, and the archives of major British computer companies, Programmed Inequality takes aim at the fiction of technological meritocracy. Hicks explains why, even today, possessing technical skill is not enough to ensure that women will rise to the top in science and technology fields. Programmed Inequality shows how the disappearance of women from the field had grave macroeconomic consequences for Britain, and why the United States risks repeating those errors in the twenty-first century.


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Details

Author(s)
Marie L. Hicks
Format
Hardback | 352 pages
Dimensions
152 x 229 x 24mm | 621.42g
Publication date
27 Jan 2017
Publisher
MIT Press Ltd
Imprint
MIT Press
Publication City/Country
Cambridge, Mass., United States
Language
English
Illustrations note
29 b&w illus.; 58 Illustrations, unspecified
ISBN10
0262035545
ISBN13
9780262035545
Bestsellers rank
629,879