The number of women working as software developers peaked in 1990

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, 35% of all software developers were women in 1990. That number has fallen to 26%. Women have slowly lost ground, working as software developers. Why is this?

We should ask, what drove the big increase in the 1980s?

Between 1981 to 1985, when USA high schools still had:

1. secretary class for working class girls who would not go to college.

2. programmable word processors that forced those women to learn how to write macros, how to write an IF() statement, how to connect multiple IF() statements together into computer programs.

The end result was that women going to college to study computer science reached its all time peak.

See chart.

During the 1980s there was a brief stretch when word processors became programmable and we still had secretary classes and so the USA accidentally ran the experiment of having all-female computer programming classes that exposed about 1 million women to basic computer programming concepts, including many women who never would have taken the class if it had been called “computer science class.”