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Janet Abbate

Janet Abbate is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and the author of Inventing the Internet (MIT Press, 1999).

Titles by This Author

Women’s Changing Participation in Computing

Today, women earn a relatively low percentage of computer science degrees and hold proportionately few technical computing jobs. Meanwhile, the stereotype of the male “computer geek” seems to be everywhere in popular culture. Few people know that women were a significant presence in the early decades of computing in both the United States and Britain. Indeed, programming in postwar years was considered woman’s work (perhaps in contrast to the more manly task of building the computers themselves).

Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use.

A BIT of Recoding Gender

Few people know that women were a significant presence in the early decades of computing in both the United States and Britain; programming in postwar years was considered woman’s work (perhaps in contrast to the more manly task of building the computers themselves). This BIT offers a chapter in this untold history of women and computing, describing women’s career stratagems in academic computing—recounting both the obstacles female scholars have faced and their resourceful strategies for gaining credentials and finding alternative ladders to visibility and career advancement.

Titles by This Editor


Although there are many competing visions of information infrastructure, there is universal agreement that standards will play a critical role. The history of OSI, the Internet, and industry consortia shows that standards development has become a rich, multifaceted process, critically linked to market strategy and major issues of public policy.