The computer girls (1967 issue of Cosmopolitan)
A trainee gets $8,000 a year . . . a girl “senior systems analyst” gets $20,000—and up! Maybe it’s time to investigate . . . .
Ann Richardson, IBM systems engineer, designs a bridge via computer. Above (left) she checks her facts with fellow systems engineer, Marvin V. Fuchs. Right, she feeds facts into the computer. Below, Ann demonstrates on a viewing screen how her facts designed the bridge, and makes changes with a “light pen.”
Twenty years ago, a girl could be a secretary, a school teacher . . . maybe a librarian, a social worker or a nurse. If she was really ambitious, she could go into the professions and compete with men . . . usually working harder and longer to earn less pay for the same job.
Now have come the big, dazzling computers—and a whole new kind of work for women: programming. Telling the miracle machines what to do and how to do it. Anything from predicting the weather to sending out billing notices from the local department store.
And if it doesn’t sound like woman’s work—well, it just is.
(“I had this idea I’d be standing at a big machine and pressing buttons all day long,” says a girl who programs for a Los Angeles bank. “I couldn’t have been further off the track. I figure out how the computer can solve a problem, and then instruct the machine to do it.”
“It’s just like planning a dinner,” explains Dr. Grace Hopper, now a staff scientist in systems programming for Univac. (She helped develop the first electronic digital computer, the Eniac, in 1946.) “You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so it’s ready when you need it. Programming requires patience and the ability to handle detail. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.”
What she’s talking about is apititude—the one most important quality a girl needs to become a programmer. She also needs a keen, logical mind. And if that zeroes out the old Billie Burke-Gracie Allen image of femininity, it’s about time, because this is the age of the Computer Girls.