Mary Gorden

Born in 1944, Mary Gorden grew up with dreams of becoming an astronaut and a scientist.  But during the 1950s and 1960s traditional attitudes about women in the workplace still prevailed. Mary’s searing memories of being told “girl don’t” in response to her aspirations opens this compelling memoir of her journey through the groundbreaking new world of computer programming and the computer as a business tool.

After she graduated from college in Wisconsin with a degree in mathematics, Mary made her way to Washington, D.C., where she began her first programming job.  She then followed her heart to San Francisco in 1969, meeting her husband along the way.

With her natural gifts as a logical problem-solver, Mary excelled in her programming work.  Yet she was constantly pressured to leave the technical work she loved and to go into management. It was an unusual problem for a woman to have in the 1970s.

Written in a no-nonsense style, Mary recounts challenging years in management and marriage––eventually discovering that she needed to leave both. She also writes about the outdoors as her passion and escape, of the intense freedom and focus to learn horseback riding and cross-country skiing, of navigating the skies as a licensed pilot, of her world travels and her love of her horses and her dogs.

Over the course of her story business computing evolves from punched cards to the beginning of the internet, and opportunities for women continue to change and grow. For more information: