Reader ‘s opinion The Skill Profiles of punch card punchers and programmers were different

As a programmer, the female gender was never a nuisance to me.

Linda Liukas wrote About Finland’s first punch card punches and their key role (HS Vision 14.8.). Tapio Penton with (HS Opinion 18.8.) Punch card punches had nothing to do with coding and programming. Antti Järvinen wanted to dismiss this argument (HS Opinion 27.8.) by multiplyingIn the 1950s, diagonals had to know the basics of programming and coding.

Who is right about this? Is this even trampling on the honor of women as pioneers in the computer industry?

If we look at computer development in Finland from a 60-year perspective, I do not see a problem here. Job profiles in the field in the 1950s were unstructured: experts – including women – performed a variety of tasks according to their abilities. Programmers also had to know how to punch punch cards when needed. Punch card punchers had to know the basics of programming languages ​​at some level in order to be able to perform the tasks assigned to them without error.

However, knowing the basics of programming is quite another than knowing how to create and code completely new programs. Punching punch cards and creating and coding new programs require a different skill and skill profile to succeed. This became clear in the 1960s, when computer operations expanded. Mathematically gifted young people – including women – were often wanted as programmers. Skillful-fingered women who had shown their skills as typists, among others, were sought as diagonals again.

In the 1970s, these occupational groups became completely separated from each other. The reason was not the underestimation of women but the demand for productivity growth. Programmer training was selected through, among other things, aptitude tests measuring problem-solving ability and three-dimensional space management. There were seldom diagonals among the elect because their valuable skills were elsewhere: in eye-hand coordination.

Personally, I ended up as a programmer in 1970 through rigorous aptitude tests and programmer training at the State Computer Center. The results were decided by the results, not the gender. As a programmer, I also had to learn how to pierce punched cards, because I had to be able to correct coding errors myself.

Programming and computers stole my interest from day one for 50 years. With further training, interest expanded into new areas: computer and information technology, computer-aided design, artificial intelligence, and vocational training. The female gender was never a nuisance. Vice versa.

Maybe I was lucky too. My first foreman (male) at Valmet was open-minded. She confessed to me when I left in the early 1970s: “Emmy, when I hired you here a little, you were the first female programmer. Experience has taught me that I dare to continue to hire female programmers. ” This recognition always encouraged me on new adventures.

Kaisa Kautto-Koivula

Licentiate of Technology, Doctor of Philosophy


Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of the writing at



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