Janet Abbate (born June 3, 1962) is an associate professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on the history of computer science and the Internet, particularly on the participation of women in the field.[1][2] Janet Abbate is also the author of Inventing the Internet (MIT Press, 1999), Standards Policy for Information Infrastructure (MIT Press, 1995), and Recoding Gender Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (MIT Press, 2012). Janet Abbate also attended The University of Pennsylvania for her Ph.D.

Academic career

Abbate received her bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College and her master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania.[1] She also received her Ph.D. from the in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994.[2] From 1996 to 1998, she was a postdoctoral fellow with the IEEE History Center, where she conducted research on women in computing.[3] She joined the faculty of Virginia Tech's Northern Capital Region campus in 2004[4] and is now an associate professor and the co-director of the graduate program in Science, Technology, and Society.[1] Janet Abbate earned a BA from Harvard University, a MA from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to her academic work, Abbate was a computer programmer herself. Her background in computer programming has influenced her research approach and has been cited as relevant in reviews of her work.[5][6]


In 1995, Abbate co-edited Standards Policy for Information Infrastructure with Brian Kahin.[7]Some of her main areas of research focus include: Gender in Science and Technology, History of Computing the Internet, and Labor Issues in Science and Technology.

Abbate is the author of two books: Inventing the Internet (2000)[8] and Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (2012).[9] Inventing the Internet was widely reviewed as an important work in the history of computing and networking, particularly in highlighting the role of social dynamics and of non-American participation in early networking development.[5][10] The book was also praised for its use of archival resources to tell the history.[11] Though some have criticized the work, citing Abbate's computer programming background as causing issues in presenting a non-technical narrative.[6] She has since written about the need for historians to be aware of the perspectives they take in writing about the history of the Internet and explored the implications of defining the Internet in terms of "technology, use and local experience" rather than through the lens of the spread of technologies from the United States.[12]

Recoding Gender also received positive reviews, especially for its incorporation of interviews with women in the field and for providing a historical overview of how women and gender have shaped computer programming.[13][14] However, the book has also been criticized for being disjointed—that the link of "women in computing" is not strong enough to hold the different chapters together.[13] The book received the 2014 Computer History Museum prize.[15]

Janet Abbate is currently researching historical emergence of computer science as an intellectual discipline.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Janet Abbate". liberalarts.vt.edu. Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  2. ^ a b Abbate, Janet. "Personal website". Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Oral History: Women in Computing". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Janet Abbate explores history of female computer programmers; offers perspective on gender imbalances and future strategies". Virginia Tech News. 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  5. ^ a b Trinkle, Dennis A. (2000). "Inventing the Internet (Janet Abbate)". Journal of the Association for History and Computing. 3 (3).
  6. ^ a b McKim, Joel (2001). "Review: Inventing the Internet by Janet Abbate". Canadian Journal of Communication. 26 (1). doi:10.22230/cjc.2001v26n1a1202.
  7. ^ Kahin, Brian; Abbate, Janet (1995). Standards Policy for Information Infrastructure. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-11206-2.
  8. ^ Abbate, Janet (2000). Inventing the Internet (1st MIT pbk. ed., 2000. ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts [u.a.]: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262511155.
  9. ^ Abbate, Janet (2012). Recoding gender : women's changing participation in computing. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262018067.
  10. ^ Alger, Jeff (1999). "Book Reviews: Inventing the Internet". Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship (24). doi:10.5062/F4222RR4.
  11. ^ "General Communication". Communication Booknotes Quarterly. 31 (1): 55–59. 2000-03-01. doi:10.1207/S15326896CBQ3101_11. ISSN 1094-8007. S2CID 218576599.
  12. ^ Abbate, Janet (2017). "What and where is the Internet? (Re)defining Internet histories". Internet Histories. 1 (1–2): 8–14. doi:10.1080/24701475.2017.1305836. ISSN 2470-1475. S2CID 64975758.
  13. ^ a b Hatton, Erin (2014-09-01). "Recoding Gender: Women's Changing Participation in Computing". Contemporary Sociology. 43 (5): 650–651. doi:10.1177/0094306114545742. ISSN 0094-3061. S2CID 143777255.
  14. ^ Colatrella, Carol (2013). "Review of 'Recoding Gender: Women's Changing Participation in Computing' by Janet Abbate". International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology. 5 (1).
  15. ^ "2014 Computer History Museum Prize | SIGCIS". www.sigcis.org. Retrieved 2021-04-16.