Women in Computing History, Short Essay

Week 5: February 22-26

This week’s unit is calledComputer Love: Gender, Sex, and Computing Before the Internet

You read Drucker, “Keying Desire: Alfred Kinsey’s Use of Punched-Card Machines for Sex Research,” 21 pp.

and Hicks, “Computer Love: Sex, Social Order, and Technological Matchmaking at the Dawn of the Electronic Age, 1950-1979

Optional: Hicks, “The Mother of All Swipes

Short Paper Assignment: In the Drucker article, we see a very clear example of how computers construct the categories that go on to define sexuality over the course of the 20th century and through to the present day. How is this similar to the point made in the Hicks article about heteronormativity? Think back to the other things we’ve read so far during this semester: how has heteronormativity defined the shape of computing in important ways in other instances? Given this, what can you say about the relative importance of sexuality on the history of computing? What role does it play alongside gender, race, nationality, and class? How does this change our understanding or lead us to new insights? Make sure your paper has a clear, original argument. Length: 800-1500 words, due on March 8th, uploaded as a comment to this post (not the message boards).

Note: Please LEAVE AN EXTRA LINE of space (hit ‘return’ or ‘enter’ twice) after every paragraph, because this system strips out indents and your paragraphs will run together in one solid block of text if you don’t leave an extra line. Also, your paper will not be visible as a comment immediately after you post it because I have to read and approve them. Because this website, unlike our class discussion board, can be viewed by anyone on the web, I will only make your post visible if you give me permission to do so–please let me know in your post if you do or don’t want me to make your post visible online. And, you can choose any pseudonym for your screen name–you do not have to use your real name. Just make sure to enter your IIT email address (it won’t be publicly visible) so I can tell who you are.

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