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

  • History of Computing
  • By: Marie Hicks
  • Narrated by: Becky White
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-27-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

Regular price: $24.95

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Publisher's Summary

In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. What happened in the intervening 30 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 21st century.

Published by The MIT Press.

"A sophisticated work of scholarship: detailed, insightful, deeply researched." (Times Higher Education)

©2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2018 Redwood Audiobooks

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 03-19-18

A look at Gender in the Workplace

I have recently read a number of books along this topic line such as “Hidden Figures, Rocket Girl, etc.”. This book deals with the United Kingdom. According to Hicks Britain was the leader in electronics field at the end of World War II. The author chronological reveals the history from Bletchley Park to the collapse of the UK-sourced IT industry in the late 1970s. Hicks also details the rigid Civil Service attitudes and strictures to constrain the role of women in the workplace.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The author spent many hours in the British archives. Hicks displays scholarship in her excellent use of original sources and extensive supporting notes and references. Hicks delves deep into the gender discrimination in the UK. The writing style is easy to read but is very academic. I found this book fascinating. It reinforces the need and benefits of a diversified work force. Marie Hicks is associate professor of history at Illinois Institution of Technology.

The book is eleven hours. Becky White does a good job narrating the book. White is a voice-over artist and audiobook narrator.


3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • BB
  • USA
  • 03-12-18

Fascinating Deep Dive into Tech and Society

This story of when--and why--computing flipped from being a feminized field to being a male-dominated one is essential knowledge for everyone working in the field today. I had no idea how much this change had to do with power rather than skill. Women in computing today face similar obstacles. The great part about this book is that it makes you think about the structures that have created this situation, and it shows how women have been there from the beginning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful