I could understand why. It wasn’t just that most of the students and almost all of the professors were men. There was also a slightly aggressive, competitive culture around the department that turned some of us off. The subtle message was that computer science was only for a certain type of person—the type of person who didn’t collaborate and didn’t have a second X chromosome.
When I got to Microsoft in 1987, it was more of the same. I was the only woman hired in my incoming class of MBAs, and it wasn’t always easy for me to feel at home in an environment where people seemed to get rewarded for being combative. I know I’m far from the only woman in tech who has considered quitting her job. I thought about it a lot.
Like a lot of people, I assumed things would get better for women in computer science. But in many ways, they didn’t. In fact, in the past two decades, the gender gap has gotten worse.