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A Review of Code: Debugging the Gender Gap

This documentary explores solutions to a crucial tech diversity problem

3 min read
Review opening image of Robin Hauser Reynolds Robin Hauser Reynolds recording an interview.
Crafting Code: Director and coproducer Robin Hauser Reynolds (left) recording an interview about the work lives of female coders.
Photo: Code

Code: Debugging The Gender Gap is a documentary with an ambitious mission. It asks why there are relatively few female programmers, explores the consequences of this state of affairs, and examines some attempts to increase their numbers. The film, which premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, is intended to be the centerpiece of educational programs in schools and corporations. It features interviews with many notable female (and some male) coders, educators, and policymakers.

Code opens by pointing out that in the early days of programming, women dominated the field. This was in no small part because male engineers thought this “soft” work was relatively trivial compared to building actual machines such as ENIAC. And in the decades that followed, more and more women entered computing: by the mid-1980s, women made up more than 35 percent of computer science majors in U.S. colleges. Then began a falloff that persists to this day, with U.S. computer science majors being about 15 percent female.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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