• 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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-27-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.3 (9 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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By cosmitron on 04-25-18

Old age problem of Female Inequality.

What made the experience of listening to Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing the most enjoyable?

It a well researched look at the Post War UK Tech world....... Although the USA suffers from the same lack of diversity, Silicon Valley is still in a modern Renaissance in Tech rather then Art.So I am sympathetic to the premise of this book but it is too simplistic to blame the lack of women in the Tech world for the British decline in this Universe.The U.S had strong Government support and large movements of skilled workers to infuse our Tech industry with fresh blood and raw talent.This was lacking in Post-War England.There is no question that more women are needed in not only the Tech World but all industries across the planet to insure continued growth in GDP. I believe this is a work that was looking to prove a premise, it is my belief that nothing could have stopped the juggernaut of American dominance after the World War ........The improper use of British women as cited by the author was a factor in the decline of the British Tech sector but it is too simplistic to put that cause as the most important factor.The unique symbiosis between the Government,Military and the private sector helped energize our Tech industry in that era.The destruction of The War put England at a huge disadvantage that it could not overcome regardless of the amount of women employed in the industry.

Who was your favorite character and why?


What about Becky White’s performance did you like?

She did her best with the material she had to work with.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No...... it is not that entertaining you need time to absorb the material.

Any additional comments?

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 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.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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