First time I read about how tech either influenced or suffered an impact from gender employment was in Bernardo Batiz-Lazo book about ATM (I tried to do a wholehearted review some time ago) and it told how banks tried to insure their front-office operations and menial tasks of accepting cheques and providing cash services. These were operated by women, who sought refuge in better paid manufacturing sector. Economic recovery in Britain in the aftermath of the WW2 took hold and these opportunities were robbing banks of dependable staff.
High-tech, automated teller machines, helped to alleviate the problem. Suprised I was to learn recently that high-tech in Britain at the time was too the result of women’s hard work — and the demise of the national sector that gave the world first powerful computers happened because of how women’s work was seen and (under)appreciated — eg., because of sexism.
Book Review: Cash and Dash: How ATMs and Computers Changed Banking — by Bernardo Batiz Lazo
A qualitative and quantitative study of a major fintech innovation that set the standard for online banking, online…
This is the topic of a good book, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing by Mar Hicks. There is a great summary of the book in her article.
“In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct.”
Evolution of thought around female employment might have been seen as radical — leading to Britain losing its competitive edge in a radical new world. The same narrative can be traced in the times of an interim republican rule of Oliver Cromwell — and so learning of what ideas populated the Parliament and what led to the end of the republican rule and the return of James II from exile is covered in a book Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate by Paul Lay.
“When an amphibious assault on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in 1655 proves a disaster, a shaken Cromwell is convinced that God is punishing England for its sinfulness. But the imposition of the rule of the Major-Generals — bureaucrats with a penchant for closing alehouses — backfires spectacularly. Sectarianism and fundamentalism run riot. Radicals and royalists join together in conspiracy. The only way out seems to be a return to a Parliament presided over by a king. But will Cromwell accept the crown?”
I need to thank Adam Tooze for the link leading me to it (I am a fan of Crashed as well as his thoughts regularly published on Twitter)
There are also a number of good books coming in 2020 that I can’t wait:
Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Anne Case and Angus Deaton — thank you, FT review, constantly a source of new books.
Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East by longtime BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas.