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Stephen Mihm

How Women Got Crowded Out of the Computing Revolution

Blame messy history for the gender imbalance bedeviling Silicon Valley.
Founding females.

Founding females.

Photographer: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty Images

Why aren’t there more female software developers in Silicon Valley? James Damore, the Google engineer fired for criticizing the company's diversity program, believes that it’s all about “innate dispositional differences” that leave women trailing men.

He’s wrong. In fact, at the dawn of the computing revolution women, not men, dominated software programming. The story of how software became reconstructed as a guy’s job makes clear that the scarcity of female programmers today has nothing at all to do with biology.