CTO Megan Smith explains how women in tech are erased from history



I wonder if Hollywood would ever consider doing something similar to blind auditions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_audition) from the orchestra world for writers. Given what little I know about Hollywood, this would probably be a tough sell, but might go a long way to fixing dumb omissions like these.

This doesn’t sound like a tech problem so much as a Hollywood problem. It’s still pretty damn creepy - who wrote that screenplay?


Oh wow, Charlie Rose still does that show?

“ ‘It’s debilitating to our young women to have their history almost erased,’ Smith explains." Really? It’s debilitating to ALL women, IMNSHO.


That idea has some merit, but the (often unacknowledged) prejudices of the people who hire writers would still be a major sticking point.

And really, it’s debilitating to men, too. Why limit the pool of excellent co-workers to only 49% of the population? Teams like this work well when they can bounce ideas off of each other, and to do that, you need different viewpoints. Plus, is a guy on a team with women going to think that he’s not on the “alpha” team, and as a result not try as hard or leave for a different job opportunity? Which is bad for the company’s bottom line, ultimately.

This is the weird thing about prejudice: it really isn’t better for the ones in power, not on a middle- to long-term basis.


Well, yes, of course it is! And prejudice, being irrational, usually isn’t good for anyone, even if they think it is. But who is ultimately responsible for keeping things under wraps re women’s history in tech? Women - because we’re trained not to seek attention in such areas? Or men - because they don’t want people to think that women are smarter than them? Or both? Can it be prevented in the future? Who knows?

It’s both.
As someone that’s spent his entire adult life working in male dominated fields - 30 years - half of which has been in high tech, I can tell you that women are absolutely treated different than men and are usually paid less for the same work.


I don’t doubt that at all. I’m just talking about the 2013 movie.

Another unsung woman software engineer from the Apollo program was Bea (for Beatrice) Siev (I hope I’m spelling her name properly). We were officemates in the late 1970s at JPL in Pasadena and she had some wonderful tales to tell from the Apollo program. As I recall, she was the programmer who wrote the software for the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module - the part that landed on the moon and then took off again). I’ve tried to search her up recently, but haven’t found anything.


Fact checking: Take a look at the picture. Correct, there are 11 (adult) people there. However, it is not 4 women and 7 men, but 3 women and 8 men. One of the women (bottom right) is Patti Kenyon, which I believe not be a member of the macintosh team but wife of Larry Kenyon. Also, top right is Susan Kare. She definitely is a member of the Macintosh team, who did top notch artwork. But that is not technology. The Mac would have worked fine with if I had done the artwork, but it wouldn’t have worked with sloppy software or sloppy hardware. That leaves 1 woman Rony Sebok (top left), and she was in the movie. This is not erasing women tech.

[Added. Correction: Patti King Kenyon was the software librarian on the Macintosh team]


I found this here:

I’m sorry.

The sexism is lame. But I also worry about people who learn the history of anything from watching Hollywood movies.


As someone who has spent his entire adult life in tech and the majority of it running tech startups and hiring people, I can tell you that in my experience, salary has nothing to do with how much work someone does.

If I had to pick a single trait that had the largest impact on salary for engineers, it would be conceit.


OK. Not sure if this is meant to be a rebuttal to what I said or not.
It’s assumed that “quantity of work” is not what’s under discussion - but rather equally important engineering roles to use the term broadly. As it were.

I can think of several movies about historical events, including Gettysburg (based on a Pulitzer prizewinning book by Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels) and Apollo 13, that did a reasonable job of presenting the facts in addition to being entertaining. If Hollywood can make history interesting and accurate, I’d rather watch the movie than read the dry as dust high school textbook.

You’re discounting the contributions of a UI designer on a machine primarily celebrated for its UI?

I don’t know that a photo taken for Rolling Stone in 1984 should be considered the Gospel for a project that started in 1980, but, whatevs.

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“You’re discounting the contributions of a UI designer on a machine primarily celebrated for its UI?”

Calling her work “top notch” is discounting Susan Kare’s contribution? Wow. I said it was not technology.
If people had wanted the artwork over the technology, they could have printed it. Her artwork would have looked just as beautiful if printed on cardboard. That would have been much cheaper too. People paid the top dollar for that computer because they wanted the technology, not just the art.

“I don’t know that a photo taken for Rolling Stone in 1984 should be considered the Gospel for a project that started in 1980, but, whatevs.”

Strawman, eh? In the youtube clip CTO Megan Smith makes reference to the picture shown to make her point. I show that the picture doesn’t make her point.

As to bringing up Joanna Hoffman, she was the Mac’s first marketing person (source: Revolution in the valley, page 105).


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