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Journal Article

“Beards, Sandals, and Other Signs of Rugged Individualism”: Masculine Culture within the Computing Professions

Nathan Ensmenger
Osiris
Vol. 30, No. 1, Scientific Masculinities (January 2015), pp. 38-65
DOI: 10.1086/682955
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/682955
Page Count: 28
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“Beards, Sandals, and Other Signs of Rugged Individualism”: Masculine Culture within the Computing Professions
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Abstract

AbstractOver the course of the 1960s and 1970s, male computer experts were able to successfully transform the “routine and mechanical” (and therefore feminized) activity of computer programming into a highly valued, well-paying, and professionally respectable discipline. They did so by constructing for themselves a distinctively masculine identity in which individual artistic genius, personal eccentricity, antiauthoritarian behavior, and a characteristic “dislike of activities involving human interaction” were mobilized as sources of personal and professional authority. This article explores the history of masculine culture and practices in computer programming, with a particular focus on the role of university computer centers as key sites of cultural formation and dissemination.

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