Thursday, March 29, 2012

Programmers and Sexism

Buzzfeed has this wonderfully thoughtful article on the topic of sexism among programmers, which I think is a must read for anyone who works on teams in a corporate environment.

Let me tell you, I love coding. Been doing it since before I hit puberty. I did it when I barely had the money to keep a server up. I do it on the weekends and evenings, and I'm teaching my kids how to do it. I've spent thousands of dollars to go to conferences so I can learn more about it. Why would I ever leave the profession where I got paid real money to do what I love?

In short, I got tired of being told to 'lighten up.'

This industry is one of subtle sexism. I almost prefer outright sexism, because at least that you can point out. The subtle barbs are usually dismissed as something I need to not care about. It was a joke! Sheesh. Why are you so sensitive?! All I did was make a joke about you needing to be in the kitchen!

Thinking back over the jobs where I've been on or managed a team, I can't actually recall working with any many female programmers. For the last two jobs I was at, I had a brilliant, talented, reliable and all around awesome QA/Source Code Manager who was a woman. I'm sorry to say, but I bet she had to endure some of this same subtle sexism (1. hopefully not from me, 2. and probably not so subtle, too!). It didn't help that she was probably the most responsible person on the team, so taking a "motherly role" may been too easy a trap to fall into. I've worked with brilliant designers who are women, too. But, as far as I can remember, not only one female coder. That's actually pretty sad when you think about it*

So go, read the article. Check yourself and your environment. We need brilliant programmers in our field, regardless of gender.

Update: D'oh! I totally forgot about Kelly! How could I forget about Kelly?! She was smart, hard working, and even though she was relatively new to programming, she definitely was a coder. OK, so I've worked with one female programmer. Still, that's pretty amazing/sad.

*I wonder how long before I remember working with a female coder? I should probably apologize for forgetting her in advance...

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