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The Ugly Underbelly of Coder Culture 715

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-so-old-boys-club dept.
snydeq writes "Today's developers are overwhelmingly young and male, and they're barring the door from a more diverse workforce, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister. 'Software development isn't just failing to attract women. It's actively pushing them away. ... Put all the pieces together, and you're left with an impression of developers that's markedly different from the geeks and nerds they're made out to be in popular culture. On the contrary, developers harbor the same attitudes and engage in the same behaviors you see whenever a subculture is overwhelmingly dominated by young males. They've even coined a clever name for programmers who think and behave like fraternity pledges: brogrammers,' McAllister writes. 'Developers like to think of their culture as a meritocracy, where the very best developers naturally rise to the top. But as long as the industry tends to exclude more than half of the potential workforce, that's nothing but pure arrogance.'"
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The Ugly Underbelly of Coder Culture

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  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:11PM (#39687295)
    "Awwww... not this shit again..."
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:58PM (#39687659)

      I'm a male, and I've been involved with programming and software development in one way or another for over 30 years now. My wife has been involved with software product management for over 25 years. Together, we've been to probably 80 to 90 programming language or software dev conferences together, in addition to working with thousands upon thousands of developers, programmers, designers, architects, IT staffers, managers, and executives of all types.

      This isn't a problem with the majority of communities. It's actually quite isolated. We've been to Fortran and Java conferences, for example, where everybody is extremely professional, friendly, and tolerant. Those conferences, even 30 years ago when I first attended a Fortran one back in my college days, were quite diverse in terms of gender. There were and are many female scientists and mathematicians who are experts at Fortran, for example.

      This is almost solely an issue with the communities related to web development. We're basically talking about the Ruby, JavaScript and NoSQL movements. These communities are among the worst there are. Ignorance, both of social norms and technology, are serious factors in why this is the case. When ignorance is embraced as a core value of a community, the results are never good. Ruby is basically Perl, but 20 years late and with a much inferior foundation. JavaScript is, well, horrible in every way. NoSQL is widely taken to be a joke by professionals, who can easily achieve the same scalability using relational databases, without giving up their many useful and even necessary features.

      These failed communities do generate a lot of hype, and that's probably why people think this is a much bigger problem than it really is. As long as they steer away from these rotten communities that are centered around being oblivious to reality, then females involved with the software development field in some way can easily have successful and productive careers, and expected to be treated as equals by their fellow professional male and female colleagues.

      • by lgw (121541) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:08PM (#39687747) Journal

        Could someone with mod point mke the parent more visible please? It's definitely informative.

        I've been doing this "coder" stuff for 20 years now, and I've never seen either "bro culture" or sexism against female coders - on the contrary there's a a subtle bias towards hiring female coders (doesn't Google have an overt quota?), and development managers are disproportionately female to a vast degree.

        But I've always done kernel, systems, and general server-side work, not the modern web-stuff. Perhaps the parent post has a point about that culture? Any front-end veterans care to comment? Or is this just a case of "magaers need to grow up and not staff the dev team with all 20-somethings", regardless of the work?

        • by CyberSnyder (8122) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:30PM (#39687939)

          Every place I've worked we *want* women and have had very few apply. Sure, they have to be competent but having a female name on the resume definitely got you at least a call back.

          • by lightknight (213164) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @04:34PM (#39688487) Homepage

            Thank You. At my university, over 99% of the CS majors were male by senior year (97% freshman year). Females aren't applying to the programs, so they cannot be considered for the jobs.

            And it's not like the CS department of any university, let alone workplace, does not want women in there. But no amount of bribery will convince them to enter a highly stressful, demanding, and often-times not very rewarding career when there are better ones available.

            • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @09:00PM (#39690199) Journal

              [software developer:] a highly stressful, demanding, and often-times not very rewarding career

              If you have worked in other industries and that's what you really think, then one of the following must be true...
              A. The ship is sinking.
              B. You're young and you're expectations are set way too high (welcome to the real world :).
              C. You need to see a doctor about your anxiety attacks.
              D. You are useless at the job and should find something less 'demanding'. Not an insult, I'm a useless metal polisher and was (kindly) sacked after the first week of trainning ( filthy, hot, and uncomfortable job anyway :). On the upside, your degree will help to open doors into other careers.

              Back on topic, I stated my CS degree in the late 80's with 160 other people, 3 of them were women. Not sure why so few but I don't think it was the prospect of hard work that was scaring them away. In the commercial world I can count the number of female developers I worked with on one hand, 2. There have been plenty of women involved but almost always in a documenting/testing/management role.

              OTOH, in the 15yrs before I started Uni I worked as.....
              A lumberjack - No females at all.
              A deck hand on a fishing trawler - a half dozen of the toughest women you could possibly imagine in a fleet of about 50 trawlers, none on our boat.
              A nylon factory worker - Plenty of women, all in the packing area and admin building, none on the factory floor or warehouse. (No men in the packing area).
              Builder's labourer - No females at all, although I see a few around today.
              Carpenter's lacky - ~200 males building window frames and 1 old lady attaching winders to them.
              Taxi driver - Like now, maybe as high as 5% female day drivers, virtually nil on night shifts.

              The difference is that the software industry and CS degrees have been actively trying to attract females for at least 20yrs but have failed miserably, All those other industries I worked for pre-1990 actively discouraged them.

              Now maybe there are macho software houses full of arrogant young men and pornographic decor that effectively scare most women away, much as they do in some blue collar workplaces. However I've never worked in or seen such a software house. In fact moving from blue to white collar the first thing that struck me was how polite people were to each other in an office, even the bosses say please and thankyou. Not saying white collar workers are better behaved than blue collar (there not, just ask any city waitress how ill-mannered 'suits' can be), but like waitressing, standard office politics requires people to be polite, even if it's through gritted teeth. Standard blue collar politics in a male only workplace is, "Any fist fights and you're both sacked".

              So to sum up, there is no doubt in my mind that some male domintaed workplaces are overtly hostile toward females and will openly disscuss (with each other) why they think women should be kept out (and vica-versa with female dominated workplaces). OTOH, I'm clueless as to why there are so few female developers.

              PS: When I went to HS boys were not allowed to attend certain classes, typing was one of them (because all the jobs involving typing were female dominated). I was (secretly) interested as a kid in what the girls were learning and it would have been useful when I first got hold of an AppleII. Instead I learnt to 'two finger' type ~35wpm because I was interested in making the computer do something , stopping just to lean how to type faster was always on the bottom of my list. I've had that bad habit for 20+yrs now, I long ago decided the ROI is just not high enough for me to go through all those mind numbing excersices, if I need something typed up fast the missus can do 100+wpm and flirt with me at the same time. Sure, that ancient state sanctioned discrimination hasn't hurt my career prospects in the software industry since typing is definitely not an essential skill for a software dev, but that's aside from the point I'm trying to make.

        • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @04:42PM (#39688563)

          But I've always done kernel, systems, and general server-side work, not the modern web-stuff.

          Perhaps that's why you think it's informative. I'm afraid completely misguided, at least in his mischaracterisation of the languages, I can't comment on the conferences, not having been to many. Ruby may have some superficial similarities to Perl in syntax but it is entirely different in culture, aims, and implementation, it is far closer to Python for example. Javascript is quite an interesting language, if you're not fazed by its unusual object system, of course it has its flaws, but it's by no means worthless. As to NoSQL, I haven't used one of these systems, and some of them cause more problems than they solve, but there's obviously a need for them or people wouldn't keep reinventing them. By the time Google uses something like BigTable, there is obviously some value, in some situations, for dropping relational dbs and going for something simpler. The NoSQL movement has the backing of some very big names.

          As to 'ignorance is embraced as a core value of a community' and 'rotten communities', I suspect the grandparent just got carried away with playing to the peanut gallery here on Slashdot - the post is almost entirely free of substance, and what substance there is is wrong, which makes me suspect all the emotional appeals about a rotten community too. I certainly haven't experienced a rotten web community online as described around Ruby - probably he's just been exposed to lots of younger males at these conferences, and been shocked by their mix of ignorance and arrogance - I imagine if the poster met the usual denizens of slashdot face to face he would have the same feeling.

          I'm sure there must be some concrete examples of this sort of boorish behaviour at conferences, but it's hardly the norm for Ruby at least.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dmbasso (1052166)

        I agree with almost everything you said, with the exception of:

        Ruby is basically Perl, but 20 years late and with a much inferior foundation.

        I'm not a Ruby coder, I've never done anything serious with it. But to say that anything is inferior to Perl seems wrong. Even JavaScript with its type inconsistencies feels less of a patchwork than Perl. I hope I'll never have to work with Perl again in my life.

      • by Alex Zepeda (10955) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:50PM (#39688135)

        Two things stand out to me:

        - In *any* group there will be jerkwads. I've seen hardware companies run like frat houses and diverse rails shops that were unbelievably professional. And then there's slashdot.

        - Younger kids will act less mature and less professional. Get a bunch of kids in their mid-twenties together and they'll do stupid shit. Give them ten years and they'll (typically) grow out of that phase. My guess is that the median age at the Ruby conferences you've attended is much lower than at the Fortran conferences.

      • Yeah... no (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:56PM (#39688179)

        Ruby is *not* basically Perl, I've used both for quite a while now. Ruby's concepts are much easier to comprehend and use in everyday coding. Classes are not some weird afterthought that feels like it's falling apart every second now, they are first class members. The Perl interpreter is way quicker, which is nice, and Perl can do just about everything, but there's sooo much unnecessary syntactic explicitness compared to Ruby. Don't get me wrong, I like both, but Ruby is a very welcome change and brushing it off as just another Perl doesn't do it justice at all. Most of its fame is due to Ruby on Rails, though, and you see how well Ruby is done by all the attempts to copy Rails' API to languages like PHP. It just doesn't work, they are not flexible enough and everything just becomes more cumbersome, though you definitely have a better shot with the features added in PHP 5.3 and 5.4.

        Repeating the same old cliche about JavaScript also shows more ignorance on your part than anything else. Yeah, I've been there, been a JavaScript basher myself, but that's a) due to not understanding its most fundamental features (anonymous functions and closures) and b) due to the horrors of cross-browser development (start using Node.js und you know how much of the pain is simply not due to the language itself). Yes, JavaScript has some fundamental issues, but is also so powerful that you can fix many of them yourself (take that, Java). And for the rest, just use CoffeeScript, which compiles to JavaScript but feels more like Ruby, but starts so much quicker than the standard Ruby interpreter even though it has to translate the code first.

        And NoSQL *does* offer some advantages for some cases, and of course some disadvantages. There's no clear winner here, it depends on your data structures, how often they change and how you want to query them.

        So. I fully reject the technological aspect of your comment. I'm not well connected to the community, so I have no idea what the gender issues there are (other than hearing about some issues at a Rails conference due to sexual imagery in a presentation). But since I don't see the ignorance that is the basis for your argument, I don't feel comfortable trusting your conclusion.

        These languages are not popular because there are obviously better alternatives, they are popular because they better match the mental concepts of many programmers and answer a whole lot of the "why the fuck...?" questions I had about your beloved classics. They make me rejoice. "Finally!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We have an all male Development and QA shop. However, the CEO, CFO, most of marketing, about 1/3 of sales, and all the administrative support staff are female. We have an on-going debate about why Dev and QA lack females, here are a few of our thoughts:

        * Severe shortage of females applying for Dev and QA positions
        * We are in a relatively out of the way location for a software shop (thus a small pool of applicants)
        * Our Dev job openings are all looking for 15+ years of experience
        * We have a very demanding

      • by Xtifr (1323) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @05:28PM (#39688991) Homepage

        Parent is a truly astonishing mix of plain truth, half-truths, and utter BS. Yes, the problem is real, no it's not universal--far from it. So far, parent and I agree 100%. But then parent claims:

        This is almost solely an issue with the communities related to web development.

        Technically not true at all, but may be based on a limited sampling, so I'll give parent a half point for this one.

        Then, however, parent goes completely astray by identifing some technologies that he, personally, doesn't like, pointing out that the problem does occur in the communities associated with those particular three technologies (which may or may not be true, I haven't checked), and then leaps to the preposterous conclusion that bad technologies attract bad people! From three data points, and dubious categorization skills (I don't like it == bad.) There are plenty of communities associated with crappy software where it doesn't arise at all. (I'd argue the reverse, that it sometimes arises in communities associated with good software, but that assumes there is such a thing as good software--a hypothesis I'm not ready to accept.) This is all simply false, bordering on troll territory.

        In my experience--and I'm also male and also have been involved in programming and software development for over 30 years--the problem seems to arise in small and/or insular communities. I've heard reports that it's widespread in software communities associated with banking and large financial institutions, which tend to be fairly insular, but are in no way small or (at least as far as technology goes) failed. Note that banking is not a subset of web development.

        It doesn't arise in all small communities, but when it does, it can feed back on itself, and become remarkably hard to evict, even as the community grows. People who deny that it happens are either deliberately ignoring it, or have simply never had enough exposure to the communities where it does occur. I managed to get by for nearly ten years as a software developer before I encountered it, which may be in part because I'm male, but once I saw it, it was impossible to deny. It's not as universal as some suggest, but neither is it a non-problem, as others suggest. It's a minor problem except in the communities where it occurs, where it's a major one. None of which has anything to do with whether or not Ruby, JavaScript and NoSQL do or do not suck.

  • Wait... (Score:4, Funny)

    by bistromath007 (1253428) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:12PM (#39687299)
    Acting like fratfucks? How is that pushing women out? Wouldn't it be more that women are repulsed by them? Haven't programmers always done that?
  • Flamebait (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:14PM (#39687319)

    Why do we even bother with the garbage from ___Word. The entire network is uninformed trolls, with sensationalist news devoid of technical merit. It's no wonder the world looks like a frat house to them. They are looking in the mirror.

    • Re:Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:23PM (#39687403)

      Because contrary to what these articles might lead you to believe, we're very sensitive about these kinds of things. We do want our sector to be a meritocracy. We don't take kindly to being painted in a broad brush as though we're all frat boys, since we take great pains to overcome the types of biases these sensationalist articles paint us as being plagued with.

      It's quite disconcerting to many of us to hear us described this way. Especially for those of us who have actively nudged people into the workforce in an attempt to stem the tide of popular opinion that this article portrays. It means our hard work might be undone, because human instinct is to believe in the simple scapegoat, and not search for actual solutions.

      • Re:Flamebait (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:41PM (#39688053) Journal
        A meritocracy? Software development isn't that, not even on a good day, not officially... I've seen my fair share of professions in action, and while there are few professions where there is such a large difference in performance between the good guys and the merely adequate, it's also one where that distinction is rarely made. Sure, the hot shot coders will rise to the top... but that amounts mostly to the top of the team pecking order. I've seen too many excellent coders go unrecognised and unrewarded by management, who fail to make the most of what excellence they have on hand. The waste of talent in the software industry is astounding.
  • Where? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wzinc (612701) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:15PM (#39687325)
    As a young male developer, I've never, ever seen or even heard of this behavior until this article. Obviously, there are men out there who dislike women and vice-versa. Where I work, we're all too busy working to worry about what race or gender the next dev is. I just want to be/hire the best person for the job.
    • Re:Where? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rwven (663186) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:34PM (#39687483)

      Yeah the article is ignoring the real problem...

      As the lead developer on a software team, I'm one of the ones interviewing potential candidates. Typically the vast majority of applicants are male, and the females who apply typically can't pass our coding questions and tests. Granted most males can't either, so the ratio is probably about the same (in regards to the pass vs fail). The fact isn't that women aren't pushed away, it's that there are just very vary few of them.

      I'm completely unbiased on the male vs female front, but if a male OR a female can't answer the tech questions and complete the coding tests properly, there's no way I'm going to hire them. End of story. We only hire Sr level devs (or ALMOST Sr), and only about 1 in 15 or 1 in 20 applicants are actually capable of high-mid-level or sr-level coding. We typically see less than 1 in 20 candidates actually being women. In our current round of hiring over the past month, we've seen about 15 males, and only one female. We've only hired one person so far, and it happened to be one of the males.

      It's not that we're biased against women, it's just that the numbers are against them. I honestly couldn't say if males are better programmers than women, because I haven't worked with, or interviewed enough women to know if there are decent female coders out there... I HAVE hired a very capable sysadmin who was female once, and she was absolutely wonderful at her job. There was nothing we asked of her that she couldn't do... She was lost in a round of layoffs a few years ago, and I've been sad about that ever since.

      There will unfortunately be sexism, racism, and other forms of bias in ALL environments, but saying the coding industry has an ugly underbelly of sexism is just ignorant. The fact of the matter is that most young male programmers would jump at the chance to get a talented female among them.

      • I HAVE hired a very capable sysadmin who was female once

        transgender-friendly workplace?

      • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jessified (1150003) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:00PM (#39687677)

        I'm completely unbiased on the male vs female front

        I think if you don't realize your bias then you are unwittingly probably part of the problem.

        There was some excellent research showing that when researchers submitted resumes with identical credentials to firms, but one with a white sounding name and one with an Asian sounding name, the white sounding names had a significantly hire success rate in getting calls. I doubt this discrepancy is from a conscious policy.
        http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090522/resume_english_090523/20090523/?hub=TorontoNewHome [toronto.ctv.ca]
        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/work/right-rsum-wrong-name/article1145212/ [theglobeandmail.com]
        http://aascpress.metapress.com/content/662555ttv6344365/ [metapress.com]

        On a personal and anecdotal note, unrelated to hiring, there is a family that frequents my business. They are Muslim, and the mother has a thick Arabic accent. I just discovered the other day that she also speaks French (I am fluent). Being from Morocco, her French is flawless and better than mine. After talking with her for some time in French, I just realized that I had been implicitly thinking of her as less educated, due to her Arabic accent when speaking English. Upon hearing her flawless French, I saw my implicit attitude change entirely.

        I work really hard to be aware of bias and to not let it get in the way of my interactions with people. But it's there for all of us, despite the effort we put in. It does no good to pretend otherwise.

        • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:09PM (#39687751)

          I think if you don't realize your bias then you are unwittingly probably part of the problem.

          What, precisely, is "the problem", in your view?

        • Re:Where? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ArundelCastle (1581543) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:24PM (#39687879)

          I work really hard to be aware of bias and to not let it get in the way of my interactions with people. But it's there for all of us, despite the effort we put in. It does no good to pretend otherwise.

          Indeed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window [wikipedia.org]

        • Re:Where? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:59PM (#39688207)

          I think you may be seeing bias where simple demographics are at play.

          Where I work, my group has eight people when we're fully staffed. When we have an opening to fill and HR starts sending us resumes of potential hires, perhaps one candidate in fifteen is female. So with all other things equal and assuming no gender bias at all, simple percentages result in our department being all male the vast bulk of the time.

          Hell, even if we were to purposely decide we specifically wanted to fill a slot with a female, we can't very well hire candidates who don't apply.

        • The flaw in that logic is that it assumes that the bias is racial. It is much more likely to be a cultural bias. The fact of the matter is that I am less likely to have a problem understanding and being understood by Michael Smith than I am Maya Kumar.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm completely unbiased on the male vs female front

        Well that's a pretty strong claim. On what do you base that?

        You probably don't discriminate on purpose, but according t studies our impression of a person varies based on factors that we are not consciously aware of.

        If makeup [go.com] can make a woman look more trustworthy, and tall people [suite101.com] earn more that short people, I'd say that people can hold biases that they're themselves unaware of. Some may be biological rather than cultural. Men have been shown to take different economic choices after being shown a photograp

      • Yeah the article is ignoring the real problem..

        The simple fact most girls have no interest in being programmers. Just like most heterosexual men have no interest in fashion design, hair and make-up or painting nails for a living. And guess what, it's not because of hordes of sexist females keeping them out of the occupation. Why is it any surprise that most women have no interest at being stuck behind a keyboard all day (and night) for a career?

    • by xzvf (924443) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:37PM (#39687505)
      I agree that there is little to no overt exclusion of any race or gender. Yet, I've observed young male groups of developers use language that is not polite in mixed company. Males and females are inherently different, and technology is a boys club. The women I've seen in the field are generally more tolerant of the normal behavior of a pack of young males. I think the solution is age and maturity, and if you want a diverse workforce, it has to be age diverse as well. Regardless of how silly the article is (probably written by academics that have never seen the real world), there is a lack of black, Hispanic and female representation in IT in general. The typical classroom/workplace where engineers and IT workers are groomed is male white/Asian. You have to question why black and Hispanic males and females of all genders avoid the technology field? Maybe they haven't embraced the Geek culture, because it isn't the companies. As a consultant, I've walked through hundreds of companies, large and small, and seen highly diverse workforces, until I get to the IT department.
    • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by finity (535067) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:51PM (#39687633) Homepage Journal
      The problem is generally not that men dislike women, sexism takes much more subtle forms than that. I'm in the military, another male dominated career field, and I've seen that it can be hard for women to try to just fit in and work if they're being singled out even in small ways. This post discusses it a bit:
      http://therealkatie.net/blog/2012/mar/21/lighten-up/

      There are times that I've thought one of my female coworker friends needs to "lighten up", and I've thought that about male coworkers too. But there are many times when I've seen that the women are correct, and that they've been singled out in an unfortunate way. It really turns them off to a field that needs a more equal gender balance, and that's too bad.

      I think XZVF kinda hit it on the head, too.

    • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by devleopard (317515) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:54PM (#39687641) Homepage

      I'm the manager of a local programmer user group. In our monthly meeting, not five minutes goes by without some sort of perverted joke or comment. It doesn't really cease when we have any women show up our meeting (typically only one). Nice and inviting, yeah.

      Though there always exceptions, programmers tend to be relatively socially awkward lot. It comes out in our jokes, in our dress, in our environment. (Ask your co-worker chuckling, "That's what she said...", wearing a video game t-shirt, with Star Wars figure strewn about his cube, as he hums the "Ocarina of Time" while coding ....) There isn't a "No gurls alloud!" sign, but there doesn't have to be. There are plenty of brilliant women who would make great programmers, but who are totally turned off by the culture. It's all about feeling welcome. (Yes, I know there's the rare girl who embraces the subculture, but that's not the point.)

      • Re:Where? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:29PM (#39687929)
        In all of these discussions, the assumption is implicit that a group (whatever group is under discussion, programmers in this case) should change their behavior because others don't like it and are pushed away from the activity by it. But why? Presumably those who are there now are there because they enjoy that environment. If you change it so that someone else is more comfortable with it, then that destroys the enjoyment of those who were there to begin with. So why, exactly, is it imperative that things be as bland and unoffensive as possible? What makes the outsiders' wishes more important than those of the insiders?
      • Re:Where? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:36PM (#39688011)

        The "That's what she said" and other sexist jokes are definitely a problem, but I don't see anything wrong with the rest of your stereotype. If girls don't like the geek culture, fuck 'em. The same goes for all the guys who think they're too cool for it. I like that an argument in the break room is as likely to be Star Wars vs Star Trek as it is to be emacs vs vi. I want to be able to say "The cake is a lie" without explaining myself.

    • Re:Where? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Javagator (679604) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:26PM (#39687903)
      We have a fair number of women where I work. The interesting thing is that they are all Asian. Whatever we stupid males are doing to drive away women apparently doesn't work on Asian women. Or it could be that there is something in Western Culture that discourages women from pursuing careers in programming.
    • by rve (4436)

      Where are all these women who are being excluded? At the last place where I worked, every single female candidate for programming positions was hired. Yes, all two of them. One was very good, the other was hmm, maybe average on a good day, but with such a tiny sample size that is pretty meaningless.

      My gut feeling has always been that it's simply a job most women aren't interested in. For a job that requires a college degree, coding doesn't pay very well, and has a rather low social status. A woman who is sm

      • I can't say how many women actually send in resumes, because HR filters resumes. However I doubt there's any real bias going on in that because:

        1) HR is heavily staffed with women.

        2) The HR people know little to nothing about the job, they just filter based off of a list of requirements (things like "must have experience with Microsoft Windows" and so on).

        3) They deal with jobs of all types, technical, clerical, administrative, teaching, custodial, maintenance, etc, etc.

        4) I work at a university. Diversity

  • Not what I've seen (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mean Variance (913229) <mean.variance@gmail.com> on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:17PM (#39687347)

    I've been a Silicon Valley software engineer for 15 years. I see no disparity of gender that's a concern.

    I work in a team of 6. We just hired a senior engineer, a woman. Of the 9 people I interviewed, I only recall 2 men in the interview. In our team, there are 2 men, me and another guy in another so called discriminated class - age. He's 53. Our entire dev team is about 50/50 and might even be tipped to the female side.

    When we went to universities to screen for interns, no identifiable difference at one I went to at San Jose State.

    Now, there is a disparity in American v. Indian (and some Chinese and Russian), but I don't think it's anyone's fault. Those are the people looking for the jobs.

    Granted I have seen some companies that put their white male faces from a Portland company right up front [simple.com], but my personal observations in Silicon Valley are quite different.

  • diversity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:22PM (#39687387)

    diversity is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves. hiring someone because they are female, or of a certain race doesn't improve anything.

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:26PM (#39687417)

    The problem is that whether you're going to be a good coder is generally decided by the time you're like 18. For those of you keeping score this is _before_ you typically enter the workforce.

    I think this is pablum is just a bunch of silly navel gazing. Most of us are too busy doing work to run around acting like 15 year olds.

    More common in my personal experience as a developer in a large corporation is that there's a rush to hire women developers of any ability. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find good candidates when _half_ the applicants are pre-screened out due to having a Y chromosome?

    To be honest, I have only seen or heard about _great_ female developers online working other places, I've never met one in my job and I've been there a looong time. I've worked with decent and even good ones, but a great one that is the "go to gal"? Never.

    I attribute this largely to upbringing. I think we'll see more in the future, but my generation and the next few generations tended not to immerse girls in technology from a young age like they did boys. I think in the current generations this is more common.

    • by netsavior (627338) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @06:33PM (#39689411)
      My first development job had a Go-to hacker girl. She was awesome (and we still keep in touch). She taught me a lot about how to be a good developer, and was always arguably more skilled at programming than me.

      She is the same age as me and started her career earlier than me. Today I am a VP System Engineer at a fortune 500 and she is a Registered Nurse.

      I think that about sums the whole snafu up.
  • by bazmail (764941) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:27PM (#39687425)
    ...therefore I am a scumbag and should be ashamed of myself?
  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:29PM (#39687449) Homepage

    I've read this article twice, and the only supporting facts for the author's conclusions seem to be some stats about declining female enrollment in CS and the personal tale of one woman who had a slightly shitty experience at one place she worked.

    WTF.. I could provide a lot more evidence to support a flat earth theory.

    I don't doubt that there are places where women have a tougher time than males in the IT dept, but the conclusions this author is making seem shaky at best (not to mention flying in the face of everything I've seen in my own somewhat lengthy career in the field.. admittedly myopic but just a valid and apparently more diverse than the evidence used by the author).

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:37PM (#39687513)
    Back in the day of home-computers (8bit/16bit, 1980s&'90s), computers were very much marketed to a boy/male demographic. Almost all games made for these computers were pretty "guy oriented". So while the boys were learning some BASIC programming and blasting away at jump-and-run & action games all day, the girls were playing with dolls, reading romantic YA books and teen magazines, and swooning over rock singers, or doing whatever it is that girls aged 5 - 16 do growing up. It is only in the last 10 - 15 years or so, with everyone, regardless of gender, starting to use things like email & IM & FaceBook & the internet, that women have started to become regular computer users. Is it really so surprising, given that a lot of women discovered the joys of computing only in the 2000s, while guys were using/playing computers massively back in the 80s and 90s, that there are more male coders and IT specialists than women coders and IT specialists today? The computers and software apps of the 1980s & 1990s were very much "guy oriented". Anyone who's over '30 and comes from that home-computing background is more likely to be male than female.
    • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:59PM (#39688215) Homepage

      Guys build products that appeal to themselves. Imagine that.

      If girls aren't getting into the industry on the ground floor due to lack of interest, you can hardly blame it on "institutionalized sexism". It was simply never there to begin with. They weren't there to influence the industry because they chose to be.

      Clueless geek males trying to "appeal to girls" likely would be an even bigger disaster. It would probably trigger even more severe whining about sexism.

  • by redelm (54142) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:41PM (#39687545) Homepage

    You expect bro's who can't get dates to be nice to women??? Which came first is another question.

  • by caywen (942955) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @02:44PM (#39687573)

    I've never seen this in any of the teams I worked in. Hell, we welcome women. If I told the team we were hiring a woman, they'd be like "f*ck yea! is she hot?? bring it
    !" And I'd be all like, "dudes, you can't bang a coworker, man!" But then I'd be like thinking, "actually she's hot braah I'm all over that yo." But other programmers might make the move first, so I be like, "yo why you be playin?".

    And then we'd drag race to settle it. In my mind.

    Actually, we all sit in our respective corners and rarely talk.

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:01PM (#39687681) Journal

    I'm an old Commodore 64 guy, a coder that has been around since the ZX80 jupiter ace days, yes...I've been around and been into every computer and every language you can think of - never mind that...it's besides the point I am about to make... ...Nowadays I work as a 3D artist at a smaller ad-company, we live in a rather huge building containing various companies, some working with programming...that of course work with us...since we're like a big family in this house we rent...if you like.

    The company next door has a woman employed, she is rather new into the business, but she really kicks ass. When it came to programming, I could literally ask her anything, she was modest, not implying that she actually knows anything, but she kicked ass every time...every time she found the answer to any of the programming issues that we had at hand, any problems we had...she solved. In other words...Women can KICK ASS when it comes to coding, and trust me...I am as old SKOOL as it comes, I've been coding everything from C64s to microcontrollers at any bit..but she?...She understood everything...and fixed it all...you know what that means? This is a woman! She kicks ass at coding...she is a natural...and I don't believe for a second that women can't kick it at this stuff, it's just a matter of attention, women can do this stuff as well as we can. Seriously...

  • At work, we're all probably too busy with work to bother with this shit, but I remember in college, whenever there were a bunch of us in the computer lab working together on something (more specifically the Linux lab that was separated off from the regular computers), guys would be looking out into the window to the regular computer lab, and make some of the most misogynistic comments I've ever heard, and talk about how "nasty that bitch is" or what a slut this other one is, or how they'd tap that one, and they even did this when there were women in there with us (who didn't say anything). I didn't really know what to say, but just sat there in shock.

    • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @05:29PM (#39688993)
      Talking about sexual interest isn't misogynistic. Women have similar discussions about men, but they hide it. Back before "women's liberation" a man would be reprimanded for talking that way before a lady, though actually the men and women would go to gender-segregated colleges. Equality means women talking about the guys they want to fuck...but that conflicts with their mating strategy, so the tendency is to pressure men to act like debutantes.
  • BS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by englishknnigits (1568303) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:15PM (#39687807)
    Complete and unadulterated BS. Of course some of this exists but not in significantly different amounts than any other group. In a typical class of 30 comp sci students, there were typically 3 women. I never once witnessed them be patronized, degraded, or excluded for any reason. I've never worked with a female programmer so I can't speak from experience but I can't see why it would be any different working with one for a job versus working with one on a school project. I have never witnessed these "brogrammers" in the stereotypical male chauvinist fraternity sense either at school or in the work force.

    I really wish everyone would get off of the whole equal outcome bandwagon and care about equal opportunity. If a woman applies to a job and gets denied because she is a woman, I care about that. If a woman applies to a comp sci school and should get in based on merits but doesn't because she is a woman, I care. If there are less women than men (or vise versa) in any field I don't care. I don't care about ratios of men, women, blacks, whites, gays, lesbians, liberals, conservatives, or any other group. I care about competent people getting jobs they deserve.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:32PM (#39687953) Journal

    I've been a software developer, I've been a hiring manager, I've been a co-founder of a startup, and worked in this industry for decades. Every time I've had an open job req, I see maybe one female applicant out of 200 resumes. 90% of success is showing up.

    -jcr

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @03:37PM (#39688017) Homepage

    Why isn't there a big media-driven push to get more women driving trucks for the cleansing department? Isn't this sexism too?

  • Already angry enough for today.

  • Here we go again... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by malv (882285) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @04:07PM (#39688281)

    Sounds like another complaint about there being too many white males in computing without being so overtly racist/sexist about it. What I want to know is why this is such a bad thing? It's not like women or minorities are being discriminated against on anything but merit. There are plenty of Asian/Indian developers. What more do you want?

    And why should the coding culture be neutered for the sake of diversity? Why should the minority dictate the emergent culture? This is just more anti-white diversity-sanitizing nonsense. You're in a white male dominated field. Computing has always appealed to white males in general. Perhaps it's biological, perhaps it's cultural, but there is no reason to suggest that this is a problem. Adapt, become part of the culture, and guide it. Nobody should be expected to adapt to you just because your the one black, Islamic, homosexual, mentally/physically handicapped, transgendered computer scientist. If you are uncomfortable about being surrounded by white males then I suggest you pick a different career that caters to your white-male phobia.

  • Hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @04:18PM (#39688351) Homepage
    The article is describing a problem very specific to our culture. Indian and Chinese STEM fields do not seem to have a problem attracting females. So if we are having a problem, then that is an indictment on our culture in general, not on the field.... Besides, in my team, I'm the only guy (I work with three ladies, one CS major and two EE majors.) Not that I've not worked in places that are completely man-poplated, but c'mon to infer the whole field is a bros-in-arms, that's just speculation for speculation's sake. YMMV
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @05:29PM (#39689001)

    Sure, there are more men than woman in IT. But this article make it seem like men are actively working together to keep woman out. I have never seen anything like that.

    I figure that woman stay out of IT because woman are smarter than men, at least in terms of common sense.

    Maybe it has something to do with woman doing more to take care of the children, so the long, unpaid, hours of many IT jobs don't appeal to woman?

    Maybe woman tend to be more social, and don't care for work that often lacks social interaction?

    Maybe it's a self perpetuating problem where woman don't want to be a field where there are hardly any woman?

    Maybe it's because IT is being taken over by visa workers who are mostly men?

    Maybe it's because other fields, like health care, are far more stable, and professional?

    No reason to jump to the conclusion that men are actively conspiring against women.

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