Female programmers made up half the industry’s workforce in the beginning, says Peter Kay; while Dr Jill Miller says increasing diversity is about levelling the playing field. Plus Robert Lawrence and Susan Hutchinson on data and the state

I have to agree with Angela Saini (In Silicon Valley, misogyny thrives on shoddy science, 8 August). When I went to university in 1964 to study mathematics, half of the other students studying maths were female. When I started work as a programmer in 1967 half of the other programmers were female. As Saini says, it was not until the advent of personal computers (and computer games) in the late 70s and 80s that this all changed and female programmers became a small minority. There was no inherent difference in skill and aptitude between the men and the women.

The Google “manifesto” is clearly ill-informed and written by someone without knowledge of the early days of computing. Sadly, we are now suffering from a serious shortage of skilled programmers because half the population with the appropriate skills have been put off entering the industry, maybe by the sexist attitudes of those with these false views.
Peter Kayes
Reading, Berkshire

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