Thursday, March 20, 2014

the net is a very gendered engenderment

so thinking back, its hard to remember any women associated with the creation of the internet - lots of "fathers of x" and so forth

yet in the 70s and early 80s, computer science was nearly 50/50 gender balance (in jobs I had an university courses and departments)

so why did this happen?

and how would the net be different if it had been designed/discovered/invented by women?

answers on a woven tapestry embroidered with holerith string band music


Simon Leinen said...

If Radia Perlman had designed the Internet, it might be more plug-and-play. As an IP-head with little exposure to other networks that were competitors some long-ago time (e.g. DECNET V) I found her opinions about "idiosyncrasies" of IP (e.g. lack of real ES-IS protocol) very enlightening.
But you're probably phishing for more stereotyped replies, so I'll pass... though some of her insistence on more robust self-configuration/negotiation (e.g. OSPFs timeouts) could be attributed to typically feminine self-doubt - male engineers *know* they will always configure all ends consistently, so why leave that to the protocol?

Simon Leinen said...

Coincidentally, I just stumbled over this interview with Radia in The Atlantic. I think it actually sheds light on both of your questions.
And the second-to-last section suggests that the perception of a monosexually conceived Internet may be skewed by the efforts of (some of) its fathers to be exclusively credited as such.

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