Janet Abbate 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.
Abbate received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. From 1996 to 1998, she was a postdoctoral fellow with the IEEE History Center, where she conducted research on women in computing. She joined the faculty of Virginia Tech's Northern Capital Region campus in 2004 and is now associate professor and co-director of the graduate program in Science, Technology, and Society.
Prior to her academic work, Abbate was herself a computer programmer, and her background has been cited in reviews of her work as relevant to her research approach.
Abbate is the author of two books: Inventing the Internet (2000) and Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (2012). 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, although others pointed to Abbate's background in computing as causing difficulty in presenting a non-technical narrative. Recoding Gender also received positive reviews, especially for its incorporation of interviews with women in the field. The book received the 2014 Computer History Museum prize.