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The idea that these masculine-identified machines might sexually harass women workers as proxies for real men often figured into jokes and cartoons of the era (see cartoon below).A reminiscence from a worker at LEO, an early British computing company—and the company which created the first dedicated electronic business computer—described how LEO bucked the norm of hiring female operators and hired men instead.
Technology is itself an extension of society and social organization.
It shows that, contrary to what was previously believed, the first computerized dating system in either the US or the UK was run by a woman.
For Valentine’s Day, 1961, the cartoonist Charles Addams—of Addams Family fame—drew a futuristic cover for the New Yorker.
Written and designed by men, these computer dating programs promised to take the messiness of human interaction out of the process of meeting women.
At first glance, the approach seemed novel and potentially progressive, part and parcel of the context of growing sexual permissiveness in American cities during the 1960s and the “swinging sixties” in London.
Source: ICL News, 1970 Paradoxically, the same sexual strictures that hurt women’s employment chances also meant that women were ideal fodder for a new type of computing project.