In Franklin sitting at a desk in front of

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the rise of computers led to a new field of career opportunity. More and more jobs were created to move the country into a new era of technology with the space race and invention of the personal computer. Since computer science relied less on physical attributes, there was an opportunity for more women to join the workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Labor in 1983, 70 percent of all new job openings were predicted to be filled by women (LA Times). In 1983-1984, the trend more more women pursuing computer science seemed to be persistent, but in reality that was the year it peaked with 37% of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science going to women. Although the number of women graduating with bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science did increase for the next 2 years, the percentage started to decrease. Within 5 years, the number of women in computer science dropped below ten thousand and the percentage down to 30% (Data). So, why did this decline of women pursuing computer science occur? The decline of women in computer science in the mid-1980’s, particularly in California, can be contributed largely to the changing masculinization of computers as well as the introduction of stereotypes that led to discouraging views of computer science for women. One factor that contributed to the decline of women pursuing degrees in computer science, is the increasing masculinization of computers and computer science. Computers were increasingly linked to math and science, which were heavily mail dominated and which women were historically discouraged to pursue (Sex Differences). In Apple’s 1980 advertisement campaign for their newest personal computers, there were multiple instances where the language around owning and using a computer was gendered towards males. In particular, the Apple II Ben Franklin Ad showcased Ben Franklin sitting at a desk in front of a personal computer. It has phrases such as “What kind of man owns his own computer?” and “It’s a wise man who owns an Apple”. The wording and images is oriented towards males and can discourage women from identifying as a demographic that can use computers. It was only in the 1990s that Apple switched from the largely technical advertisements of the 1980s to more recreational uses of the personal computer, and minimized the gendered language (Ad). As shown, computers were paired with men which affected how more males pursued computer science and dominated computer classes. Video games, a common source of knowledge and experience with computers for youth, were extremely gendered and associated with boys (LA Times). Thus, because of the subtle messages from society on who was the main demographic for computers, women were discouraged from pursuing computer science degrees. The accessibility of computers and exposure to computers also plays a big part in the number of women who decide to pursue computer science. According to an LA Times article from November of 1983, “young men and young women are equally adept on computers when both have equal access to them”. However, it is when there is an inequality in exposure and preparation to work with computers that there is a problem. As mentioned before, video games are mainly consumed by males, which skews the opportunities to use and learn computer skills towards males (LA Times). A study conducted in 1985 on “Sex Differences on the California Statewide Assessment of Computer Literacy”, examined the differences in knowledge about computers and from where that knowledge came from boys and girls in the 12th and 6th grades. They found similar results, with both 12th and 6th graders reporting that significantly more males learned about computers from video games than females. In addition, when testing performance of computer skills boys scored higher on almost every category. Only in the systematic procedures category did girls perform on par with boys. Interestingly, that is the only category that did not require previous knowledge and experience with computers. Thus, one can conclude that the reasons for these results do not stem from females inferiority in computer science but in the fact that they simply do not have as much experience working with computers. Girls also reported a greater belief that the use of computers slows down business operations than boys. However, this can also be linked to exposure to computers as girls would be more likely to encounter computers in the reference frame of word processing as boys would be more likely to encounter them in math and science classes. Both the article and study show that there are definite consequences of the difference in access to computers whether it is because of how males were more likely to be exposed to computer-related activities or because of the stereotypical lights that computers were presented.