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History of Women in Computing - The Decline 1980s

Grace Hopper Grace Hopper

During the 1980s is when personal computers became a part of the home- life and because of this early in childhood girls were discouraged from the computing field. Apple marketed the Apple II to young boys looking to be astronauts, scientists, engineers, and just about any careers in STEM disciplines. The stars of all the commercials in the 80s were young boys with their macintosh.

This marketing caused parents not only to purchase Apple computers, but to purchase them for their son's. The computer was often in the boy's room and that meant that girls didn't get to spend as much time with it as boys did.

By the time that these boys got into computing majors, they had already been using personal computers their entire life. Girls had to catch up with the boys and because in the 80s you had to know programming to get a computer to do anything, it left them leaps behind. This caused a lot of women to change into other STEM disciplines and leave their computers behind.

Patricia Ordonez was one of those women who were discouraged during her early experience with computing. She remembers a time during her first computing class that the teacher asked a question which she attempted to answers and when she got it wrong he remarked that she should know the anwer. As he said this a boy across the room raises his hand and gives up the answer, and she was in awe with the boy's genius. In all reality, the boy had just had experience at home toying with his personal computer.

"I remember this one time I asked a question and the professor stopped and looked at me and said, 'You should know that by now,' " she recalls. "And I thought 'I am never going to excel.' " -Patricia Ordonez

Ordonez never gave up and is now a professor in computer science, but that one class discouraged her so much that she dropped out of the computing major initially and switched into a major in foreign languages.

More Apple II Boy Targeted Commercials


D. (2008, May 24). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from https://www.youtube. com/watch?v= 1lEmzAY5xIo
Henn, S. (2014, October 21). When Women Stopped Coding. Retrieved April 18, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when- women-stopped-coding
H. (2011, October 05). Retrieved April 18, 2018, from https://www.youtube. com/watch?v =rxNjx_VWJ8U
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