Women in Tech: A PSA

Finally, a man willing to speak truth to matriarchal power candidly answers the question: why are there fewer older women in tech?

(PSA for the PSA: you might want to make sure you’re not near any breakables before reading. If you’ve recently eaten, please wait at least half an hour.)

Here goes nothing:

They dropped out. They dropped out because programming demands single-minded focus, mathematical skill, logic, and most of all, individual accountability. They dropped out because they didn’t belong in the field and encouraging them to pursue it was doing them a serious career disservice. As a general rule, women don’t like competitive jobs where they are held to an objective standard, particularly when they cannot easily pass off their work to others and still take credit for it.

Throw in the fact that male programmers tend to be competitive and socially graceless, which means that relatively few of them are inclined to do a woman’s job for her in return for the well-practiced flash of a big smile and a few smug coos of appreciation, and it should be no surprise that even intelligent and well-trained women don’t tend to last long in the industry.

Kudos on your bravery and willingness to speak out, sir.

Obviously, it’s troubling enough that anyone actually thinks this. That the people who think this have no compunction spouting it publicly, secure in the knowledge that they will receive back-pats from the others who share their righteous indignation, makes me want to kick a puppy, and anyone who knows me knows that I like 100% of puppies more than 99% of people.

Seriously, look how many commas that last sentence has. That’s how upsetting this is.

Also, if I may go all “What about the menz?” for a moment, can we kill this “programmers are socially graceless” thing? It’s a tired trope that is simultaneously (1) untrue and (2) an easy way to justify problematic behavior, and it doesn’t do much other than alienate anyone who doesn’t fit the (false) stereotype from the industry.

There are no special little awkward coding snowflakes, just people who code. Like it or not, we all grew up in the world, not under a magical Javascript rock. And in the world, there are great female programmers and shitty female programmers, and great male programmers and shitty male programmers.

One might venture to say that there are simply “programmers,” if one were feeling especially saucy.

20 Comments

  1. Bloody hell fire, Michelle – that’s a man who is long overdue for gelding! The scary thing, as you have pointed out, is that this is not satirical or joking; the terrifying thing is the number of people (male and female) who secretly, and not so secretly, go along with this kind of antediluvian tosspottery!

    ‘A few smug coos of appreciation’: ye gods! The most he’d get from ME would be a couple of heavy bricks applied simultaneously below the belt!

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  2. Sounds like the “women in media” stereotype… which constantly makes me gnash my teeth in rage. And which is also the reason I want to punch Erin Andrews and her vapid, tits-and-ass-are-all-need ilk in the crotch – some of us are trying to WORK here, you useless Barbie bitches!

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  3. I’m so torn between suggesting (out of concern for your wellbeing) that you stop reading MRA sites and selfishly hoping you continue so we keep getting to read gems like “not under a magical Javascript rock.”

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  4. ı’m dating myself, I know, but I remember being told, flat out, by a teacher that I would never be good at math because I was a girl. I’m always proud and amazed by women of my generation and older who know how to do anything technical or mathematical. I perhaps lacked the imagination or the drive to overcome the comments, and I do have to admit I used it as an excuse to never progress past trigonometry and basic word processing, (my interests lay elsewhere.) I think for many women of the GenX generation and beyond, assumptions of our capabilities made us less inclined towards certain fields.

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  5. The really amazing thing is how you can find a similar set of stereotypical discouragement for just about any field or art form, and the great amount of thought people will put into coming up with reasons *other* than patriarchy for women’s underrepresentation in any given area.

    Some of my faves from the comedy world were:

    * Women aren’t funny because when everyone was in school and trying to attract the opposite sex, guys had to learn to be funny to get girls’ attention, but women never had to do that
    * Women don’t like being seen as unattractive or disgusting, which you have to be for comedy
    * Women are uncomfortable with bawdy or offensive jokes because they need everyone to approve of them

    Obviously, all those “explanations” confuse symptoms of patriarchy with justifications for it, but try explaining that over beers after a show.

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  6. I definitely appreciated the warning you gave beforehand….as it turned out to be much needed. And I really liked your view that there are “simply programmers.” No gender description needed. I find that applies most of the time with professional “titles.”

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  7. The stories like the one you are quoting from always, ALWAYS tell you much, much more about the writer than they do the “subject matter.” Take every pronoun in that story and replace “men” with “me” and “women” with “my approximation of all women because I’m a socially graceless fuck to whom no one can stand to speak for longer than 5 fucking second before wanting to shove a fork in their eye just to get out of having to talk to me” but that would make for a much longer text, I guess.

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