Gender and Programming: Mixing the Abstract and the Concrete

Gender and Programming: Mixing the Abstract and the Concrete

Peter McKenna (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-741-6.ch004


This chapter seeks to examine a theory of gendered styles of programming which is predicated on differences in attitudes toward abstraction and black boxes. It critically explores the theoretical questions and issues raised and summarizes the design of an empirical, quantitative means of testing gender-based attitudes to black boxes, alongside and triangulated with ethnographic research into the experiences and attitudes of female students in relation to programming. The paradigm-shift represented by object-oriented programming is given particular consideration because of the claims made on its behalf within this debate, and as a special case of abstraction. The chapter concludes that there is no gendered difference in attitudes toward black boxes in programming, and that the reasons for female under-representation in computing lie elsewhere.

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