When computers were giant machines, women were in charge of programming them. It started in the 50’s and lasted until the mid 70’s.
Why did women dominate programming?
Because it was a new sector and the prestige was in something close ” the hardware”, not “the software”.
At that time what matters is the construction of computers, it is where the money and prestige was. Programming was considered a secretarial activity. You can see this reality in the movie “Hidden Figures“.
What happened so that women disappeared from computing? Three things, according to sociologists,
First, software was becoming more and more important. The valorization of this work in the 70s made it more difficult for women to access those jobs.
The programming positions were no longer for secretaries, the companies began to appoint men for these jobs.
Second, the beginning of personal computers in homes.
According to a study of the gender gap by Jane Margolis of Carnegie Mellon University, in the 1990s, parents were more likely to give a son to a computer than a daughter.
Third, in the 20th century, the image of computer scientists as geeks and asocial people also began to be popularized.
That image was not attractive to many women where they did not see themselves represented.