Few people know that Argentine women have played a significant part in Latin America's computing history. In the 1960s, the first programming language in Argentina was created, called “Compilador del Instituto de Cálculo” (“Compiler of the Calculus Institute,” ComIC for short). This is a story of technological appropriation by programmers, mathematicians, and pedagogues in a historical context full of technological and political transformations.
A programming language is a set of “grammatical rules” and instructions for a computer. So, in a way, women taught Argentina's first scientific computer of the time “to speak.”
Only a few years after women were allowed to vote in Argentina, and in a tumultuous context that saw the birth of several dictatorships, a group of women students who had recently graduated from the first generation in Scientific Computing at the University of Buenos Aires built ComIC to complement the national computer “Clementina.” At that time, computing was considered a public service.
This kind of story is not usually part of the recognized history of computing, and the role of women was erased or forgotten, even though they were a foundational part of it. Uruguayan programmer Gaba, who asked to be identified with her nickname because it is her public identity, emphasized to Global Voices that we all have technology stories and it is important to recover them.
Recovering history with our technology, in this case history in Argentina and women in the development of technology, is also a part of recovering our own history.
At that time, computing was not considered a more male-oriented field, unlike today where women are a minority in STEM. Researcher Sasha Costanza-Chock recounted in her book Design Justice:
Low diversity in technology has not always existed. Initially computers were people doing calculations, mostly women. When technology became relevant, men took over the industry.