Friday, September 26, 2014

Walter Isaacson on the women of ENIAC [Fortune]

Final paragraph of an excerpt from Isaacson's soon-to-be-published The Innovators

"Shortly before she died in 2011, Jean Jennings Bartik reflected proudly on the fact that all the programmers who created the first general-purpose computer were women: “Despite our coming of age in an era when women’s career opportunities were generally quite confined, we helped initiate the era of the computer.” It happened because a lot of women back then had studied math, and their skills were in demand. There was also an irony involved: The boys with their toys thought that assembling the hardware was the most important task, and thus a man’s job. “American science and engineering was even more sexist than it is today,” Jennings said. “If the ENIAC’s administrators had known how crucial programming would be to the functioning of the electronic computer and how complex it would prove to be, they might have been more hesitant to give such an important role to women.”"
Walter Isaacson on the women of ENIAC

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