NPR logo

Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/356944145/357036571" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding

Podcast

Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding

Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/356944145/357036571" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Save this episode to Stitcher: Listen to this Later on Stitcher

Elsie Shutt founded one of the first software businesses in the U.S. in 1958. And the programmers were all women. Courtesy Elsie Shutt hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy Elsie Shutt

Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Most of the big names in technology are men.

But a lot of computing pioneers, the ones who programmed the first digital computers, were women. And for decades, the number of women in computer science was growing.

But in 1984, something changed. The number of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged.

Today on the show, what was going on in 1984 that made so many women give up on computer science? We unravel a modern mystery in the U.S. labor force.

Update: For more, check out When Women Stopped Coding.

Music: Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify/ Tumblr. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.