Prisvindende professor skriver glemte kvinder ind i tech-historienSCIENCE FORMIDLINGSPRIS 2020:
Kvinder sendte den første computer ud i rummet og programmerede legendariske computerspil i 70’erne. Alligevel er kvinderne usynlige i både historien og kulturen omkring datalogi, men det vil professor Pernille Bjørn ændre på for at skabe mere mangfoldighed i tech-verdenen. Den 8. marts modtager hun SCIENCE Formidlingspris for at sætte fokus på kvinder i datalogi.
Women made up roughly 30% of computer programmers well into the 1970s. Today, this number is lower. The 1980s—a time when women enrollment rates in computer science programs were at its lowest—represent a crucial period for the rise of computing gaming. Across the decade, images of the weird, brilliant, male computer hacker began to take hold of the media’s attention, showing up in storylines for major movies and popular accounts, but neglecting the important work of women in that process. We want to change this misrepresentation of women in the gaming industry by establishing their presence into the historical archives.
Atari Women is a research project which is part of FemTech.dk organised in collaboration between the Human Centred Computing (HCC) Section at University of Copenhagen, in Denmark and the Human Centred Design & Engineering (HCDE) Department at University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
This year, the number of women choosing to study Computer Science education at the University of Copenhagen has risen to completely new heights. From 7% to 18% in only two years. This fills us with joy because it is aligned with our efforts in FemTech.dk. But… Why is this an important piece of news? Nowadays, and more than ever, digital technologies play an important role in society. Statistics show that digital technologies are used by many but are developed by a few. This becomes especially relevant when looking at the number of women who participate in developing digital technologies.
What are the issues related to this lack of diversity? A crucial issue is that it can limit what it is taken into consideration and what it is left out, therefore potentially constraining people rather than enabling them. Companies are increasingly eager to bring in people with different backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge in developing digital technologies – this entails that there is indeed a diverse pool of people with the required skills and knowledge (which opens up the discussion of what are these “required” skills, we will leave this for another post). Engaging in activities that display different representations of computing, potentially increasing the interest of women (and not only) in computer science is one step towards broadening participation in technology development, and FemTech.dk and DIKU are taking this step forward.
You can read more about it on DIKU’s website (in Danish)
Media representations of computer science – what do what computer scientists do? how do they look like? – are an important aspect of broadening participation in computing. In this new article, you can read some extracts of an interview to Prof. Pernille Bjørn on representations of computer science and gender based on her research in FemTech.dk: