In Malaysia, women make up between 50 and 60 percent of the computer industry’s employees and many of them hold management positions. Computing and programming are considered “women-friendly” professions because men do not see indoor work as masculine and much of Malaysian society stigmatizes women who work outdoors as lower class. “In the U.S., technology and masculinity are very connected, which is not the case in Malaysia,” says Lulea University of Technology professor Ulf Mellstrom. Women initially left their villages to seek jobs in the electronics industry. Those jobs were replaced with technological jobs, which enabled newly educated women to assume positions of authority. Mellstrom says the transition was facilitated for women in computer science by role models from the electronics industry. He says the critical mass of women in the computer sciences has created “a symbolic space” that continues to provide new role models for other women.
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