Megaman 2 – Wily Stage 1 »« LBP2 Machinima: Sexy And I Know It

The new coder culture: “Brogrammers”

A few days ago, Neil McAllister of Fatal Exception covered the age and gender disparity in the software development world, and it sounds strikingly similar to stories about the science research world, video gaming communities, the various atheist communities online, and hell, even the “Brony” community. Apparently, a sort of generalized culture has emerged within a number of software development companies where programmers act like fraternity brothers, and pretty well the only ones who can get and stay in their positions are young males willing to binge-drink. Everyone else experiences the sort of chilly climate we’ve discussed in those aforementioned, more proximate cultures.

Some say the problem is our education system. Schools and colleges should be doing more to encourage girls and young women to explore computing. Right now that’s not happening. Overall enrollment in university computer science programs is up 10 percent from last year, but enrollment among women is down.

Others say companies should provide the encouragement. Some companies already are; Etsy, for example, is offering $50,000 in grants to send women to its Hacker School training program in New York City this summer.

That’s admirable, but it falls short of addressing the real problem, which is that software development isn’t just failing to attract women. It’s actively pushing them away. Worse, they’re not the only ones.


Actively pushing women away? Go on! How could that possibly be?

“As the woman, I’ve been the only person in the group asked to put together a potluck,” writes Katie Cunningham, a Python developer at Cox Media Group. “I’ve been the only one asked to take notes in a meeting, even if I’m the one who’s presenting. I once had a boss who wanted to turn me into a personal assistant so badly, it ended up in a meeting with HR.”

Just as harmful, she says, were the casual jokes and comments from her male coworkers. If she didn’t shrug them off with a smile, she was told she had a bad attitude. Cunningham says the subtle sexism she encountered as a programmer was so discouraging that she once considered leaving the field for good. “I almost prefer outright sexism, because at least that you can point out,” she writes.

Oh, surely she’s just crazy. And surely the REAL problem, the one we should be focusing on, is that men who aren’t young and binge-drinking are assigned a lower priority as well.

Sorry, I just had to get that out of the way before someone tried to derail the conversation. Preemptive derailing. Really, men who aren’t willing to binge drink are making a personal choice. Men who are too old, or men with breasts and/or vaginae (e.g. women), are being excluded unfairly. But I think of the two exclusion zones, the one covering everyone who identifies as a woman is slightly more prevalent.

And it’s not like this culture is harmless to the people who are steeped in it – imagine these guys’ livers. Imagine these guys’ self-perpetuating senses of baseless entitlement. Hell, imagine their code, from multiple hangovers!

So the problem here isn’t that these people are being targeted, the problem is that a fraternity “boys will be boys” culture was inculcated in the software development world and it was left unchecked. You’ve got a case where the memes that make up toxic masculinity are running rampant, and nobody’s actually doing anything to stop it. Fascinating from a memetic spread point of view, but horrifying from an egalitarian one. A culture that prides itself on being as close to a true meritocracy as any, and yet it’s treating women and more mature men like outsiders rather than including them in the process and letting their code speak for itself.

Sound at all familiar? It’s kinda why I bring this shit up over and over again.

Comments

  1. tynk says

    Well, I can speak up for a female developer! Though I am in a unique situation, just 2 years ago I was not a developer, I was infrastructure support. My boss found out I was automating some of my job and he asked me to start doing more. I am now a full time developer with one “partner” who is my lead, though I surpassed his skill according to his own measurement.

    At this point there is still the occasional sexist joke that floats around. Out of 45 people on our teams, there are 5 women. But it did take a long time for some of the engineers outside of our groups to start listening to me, some still don’t.

    One thing I have been trying to do, when asked about skills needed or internal advancement, I have been adding in some of the women for consideration for the more technical jobs. Others usually recommend them for tech writing, as opposed to say server or network support.

  2. julian says

    Clearly this woman is just over sensitive. Co workers will naturally make derogatory jokes and it is her responsibility to suck it up. She is, after all, the one wanting to fit into their world.

    Seriously though this caught my eye.

    “I almost prefer outright sexism, because at least that you can point out,” she writes.

    I heard the same regarding racism from much of my wife’s family when they came up to New York. There was an incredible amount of self congratulatory ‘we’re less racist than those people down south’ when that was no where near the case. Worse still is that (much like with the more overtly discriminatory atmosphere) they weren’t allowed to call the system racist.

    Of course they simply had to be misunderstanding people, or catching them on a bad day, or just looking to suspicious. How they possibly assume the person following up and down the store was acting like a racist? That was the real racism.

    It gets old and it never stops being insulting. Stop discriminating against your employees. Stop forcing them to tolerate your moronic humor. Stop being such incredible assholes.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Huh. My dictionary says there actually is such a word as “vaginae”.

    And it comes from the same Latin root as “vanilla” – which, poor thing, seems not to have a plural.

  4. karmakin says

    I think the article kind of derailed itself, to be honest. I don’t think that the sexism issue and the social link issue are that tightly tied together, although some people would argue that the latter leads into the former. I’m sure most of us have seen the argument all too often, that people acting sexist are not actually sexist, they’re just acting sexist because that’s the soft, meaty underbelly.

    That said, of course, both are important issues, I just don’t think they fit well together. Myself, I have fallen victim to the social link issue, being left out of the loop on important decisions…because I don’t smoke.

  5. Ben says

    How about the older men and woman of any age team up on the brogrammers? Also maybe enlist woman and older men from work places that don’t safer from brogrammer infestations to see what they are/did do differently? Also the younger woman will then get the advantage of easier access to the older mens programming experience. Thereby providing an extra edge over the brogrammers.

    Also wasn’t the first compiler written by a woman? Anyone know her name?

  6. F says

    Ben 10:

    That would be the legendary Grace Hopper.

    _
    As to this programmer, yeah, she should suck it up and if she doesn’t have a witty and demeaning retort ready, she should just punch the brogrammer in the head. Think more like a man!

  7. Ali Reza says

    I’m an OCaml developer. Can’t say I’m much of a binge drinker as stripping all the myelin out of one’s brain is not a good long term prospect in any sense…

    That being said, I don’t really want politics being dragged into my professional life. The maxim I live by is what von Neumann said to Feynman at Los Alamos: “You don’t have to be responsible for the world you live in.” And, quite honestly, I’d rather listen to him than some political activists. Moreover, I find that being apolitical frees your mind. It probably gives you more opportunities for advancement in a scientific / technical career. (Certainly did for von Neumann himself.)

  8. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    Apparently, a sort of generalized culture has emerged within a number of software development companies where programmers act like fraternity brothers, and pretty well the only ones who can get and stay in their positions are young males willing to binge-drink.

    An unexpected win for open-source over commercial software. I can’t imagine devs distributed across a continent chugging together on webcams every weekend.

  9. Ali Reza says

    An unexpected win for open-source over commercial software. I can’t imagine devs distributed across a continent chugging together on webcams every weekend.

    It would indeed be interesting to collect stats on how many libre software developers are women or old men or young men who aren’t total boozehounds, relative to “irl” programmers.

    Something tells me the distributions aren’t gonna be all that different.

  10. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    Something tells me the distributions aren’t gonna be all that different.

    I was referring to the social coersion and exclusion of non-boosehounds, which probably wouldn’t apply when coworkers aren’t physically in the same office.

    Hence the comment about webcam-drinking to fit in.

  11. Ali Reza says

    I was referring to the social coersion and exclusion of non-boosehounds, which probably wouldn’t apply when coworkers aren’t physically in the same office.

    Yeah but then I guess you could whinge about web forum / mailing list culture instead.

    Look, living your life as a nerd is always going to be met with stiff resistance from people around you. Doesn’t matter what dangly bits are between your legs. People are stupid. There are more important things in life than fighting for “social justice” and “equality” for people who are probably innately unequal to begin with.

    This all kind of stems from an experience I had when I was about 12. By this time I had been to both a church and a mosque and it dawned on me that, where the church showed images of people in its artwork, the mosque didn’t. I asked why this is the case and it turns out that the stuff is non-representational because it’s supposed to be about something higher than human beings and animals.

    So while I eventually ceased to be a Mooselimb, this idea left a really huge impact on me. By the time I was in high school people’s stupidity was just impressing itself on me more and more and I just stuck with my (small) circle of friends and kind of dropped out by, among other things, plotting fractal images and tripping on morning glory seeds. In both cases I had insights into these kinds of rich arabesque images, kind of mathematical faces of God, in a manner of speaking.

    So, bottom line is, why should I give a rat’s ass about fighting a Sisyphean battle against human retardation? Women are retards, too, btw. Not worth fighting for. As Marvin Minsky suggested in his essay “Will Robots Inherit the Earth?” (http://web.media.mit.edu/~minsky/papers/sciam.inherit.html), people are probably too stupid for the challenges of the 21st century. If that is the case, then transhumanism is the only way forward. The perfected being will be above issue of gender. It won’t have a gender. And that’s what makes feminism stupid. It’s focusing on all these trivial, small beer issues that probably won’t even be relevant by 2100.

    *Groan* Is there no better sounding single-word than ‘teetotaler‘ for people who prefer to keep their faculties intact?

    What, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional drink.

    Whenever I’ve done myself especially proud I have a bit of vodka or a few decent beers. Or cider. Cider is just the best.

  12. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    @Ali Reza:
    I was unfamiliar with the
    “Twenty-second century robots; therefore feminism is stupid”
    argument.

    And thank you for introducing me to the potent insight that comes from consuming morning glory seeds.

  13. Ali Reza says

    I was unfamiliar with the
    “Twenty-second century robots; therefore feminism is stupid”
    argument.

    Well I’m pleased to have brought it your attention. Genitalia-based politics are pretty stupid overall.

    And thank you for introducing me to the potent insight that comes from consuming morning glory seeds.

    Think of it like the parameters in metaheuristics that you can use to increase the diversity of candidate solutions generated. In genetic algorithms, this is the mutation rate; in simulated annealing, temperature, for example. Increasing these parameters is beneficial up to a point.

    Psychedelics increase the diversity of thought by temporarily increasing the the gain (and, thus, sensitivity to noise) of neocortical pyramidal cells and there’s pretty sound research to the effect that these drugs are mind-enhancing when used in moderation. Absolutist views towards drug abstinence which you seem to be espousing here just aren’t well-supported.

  14. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    @Ali Reza:

    Absolutist views towards drug abstinence which you seem to be espousing here just aren’t well-supported.

    Besides sounding derogatory, ‘teetotaler’ does imply absolutist commitment (apparently even an -ism), which is why it’s a terrible word for people who’d just rather not become a giggling uncoordinated moron for an evening and wake up with a headache.
     

    I was unfamiliar with the “Twenty-second century robots; therefore feminism is stupid” argument.

    Well I’m pleased to have brought it your attention.

    And you make an excellent case for the existence of stupid people.

  15. says

    Astounding that you would make an argument for privilege from a position of privilege, Ali Reza. “I don’t see any problems, therefore there aren’t any problems! Why you gotta bring your sex into it?” As though being a male, you can speak for females.

    I don’t care about having a drink. I don’t care if you like to drink your face off nightly, or if you abstain totally. I don’t care if you like to trip balls off some plant or another. I do, however, care about perpetuating memes that disadvantage some people, including the people who are most advantaged by those selfsame memes. And I care about people dismissing those who are underprivileged for looking for social justice, when the people doing the dismissing are not touched by one iota of that injustice.

    Imagine for a moment if someone were to tell you to stop trying to make atheism a viable life choice where you won’t get mistrusted or ignored were you to, say, run for public office, or try to get a job in a predominantly Christian field. Imagine how outraged you’d be if someone came along who said “I’m a Christian and I think what you’re doing is dumb.” That’s what you’re doing to feminists, Ali Reza. Just stop.

  16. says

    And I have a terrible trait where I think humanity is worth keeping, for all its flaws. I think transhumanists who want robots and are okay with humanity dying are species-traitors.

    How’s that for inflammatory rhetoric?

  17. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    At least he wastes no time discrediting himself with crank magnetism, given the opportunity.

  18. Ali Reza says

    Besides sounding derogatory, ‘teetotaler’ does imply absolutist commitment (apparently even an -ism), which is why it’s a terrible word for people who’d just rather not become a giggling uncoordinated moron for an evening and wake up with a headache.

    Drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you have to wake up with a headache.

    And you make an excellent case for the existence of stupid people.

    Disagreeing with you doesn’t make me stupid.

    Astounding that you would make an argument for privilege from a position of privilege, Ali Reza.

    Saying that someone is right or wrong based on their personal characteristics is just a form of ad hominem.

    And I care about people dismissing those who are underprivileged for looking for social justice, when the people doing the dismissing are not touched by one iota of that injustice.

    I suppose I could play the World’s Smallest Violin here talking about how you don’t understand what it’s like to be a brown person but I always thought that was kind of pitiful too.

    Imagine how outraged you’d be if someone came along who said “I’m a Christian and I think what you’re doing is dumb.”

    I wouldn’t be outraged, just bemused.

  19. Ali Reza says

    And I have a terrible trait where I think humanity is worth keeping, for all its flaws. I think transhumanists who want robots and are okay with humanity dying are species-traitors.

    imokwiththis.jpg

    A thought occurred to me. Think of how much the US Department of Defense does on a daily basis to benefit the cause of science and, in particular, transhumanism (via robotics, artificial intelligence, human enhancement technology). Now think of how much self-proclaimed “science/critical thinking advocates” like yourself do to benefit the cause of science—in a year.

    What follows is an excerpt from the book A Beautiful Mind, which reflects on the minds of quite a few people working in this area:

    Nash’s faith in rationality and the power of pure thought was extreme, even for a very young mathematician and even for the new age of computers, space travel, and nuclear weapons. Einstein once chided him for wishing to amend relativity theory without studying physics. His heroes were solitary thinkers and supermen like Newton and Nietzsche. Computers and science fiction were his passions. He considered “thinking machines,” as he called them, superior in some ways to human beings. At one point, he became fascinated by the possibility that drugs could heighten physical and intellectual performance. He was beguiled by the idea of alien races of hyper-rational beings who had taught themselves to disregard all emotion, Compulsively rational, he wished to turn life’s decisions — whether to take the first elevator or wait for the next one, where to bank his money, what job to accept, whether to marry — into calculations of advantage and disadvantage, algorithms or mathematical rules divorced from emotion, convention, and tradition. Even the small act of saying an automatic hello to Nash in a hallway could elicit a furious “Why are you saying hello to me?”

    Your problem is that the movement you so despise tends to draw very intelligent, motivated people. I suggest you try to find something to do about it that isn’t whining.

  20. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    @Ali Reza:

    “He was beguiled by the idea of alien races of hyper-rational beings who had taught themselves to disregard all emotion”

    You’re citing Nash’s fictionalized idle musings as an argument from authority!? He thought those aliens were communicating with him through the New York Times.
    See the documentary “A Brilliant Madness” instead of the movie.
     
    You’re equivocating among
    – Famous smart people like robots. I like robots too.
    – Science is desirable, of which robotics is a subset. Yay robots!
    – In the future, our descendants might possibly die off anyway, so screw everyone today. All resources must go toward making hypothetical sentient robots someday.

    It’s an ego-stroking wrapper for the self-fulfilling notion “Society sucks so much, I don’t think it deserves attention to improve it.” And in repeating that meme of self-fulfilling inaction, you’re actively sabotaging attempts to help people who conveniently aren’t you.

    You’re using a techno-utopia fantasy as an excuse to feel good about anti-social behavior.

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    * Correction: You referred to the non-fiction book that inspired the fictionalized biodrama. So ignorance of his condition wasn’t a factor in your poor decision to highlight that delusion as representative of your ideals.

  22. Ali Reza says

    You’re citing Nash’s fictionalized idle musings as an argument from authority!?

    No.

    Where are you getting “argument from authority” from btw? I really hate it when people invoke fallacies spuriously.

    So ignorance of his condition wasn’t a factor in your poor decision to highlight that delusion as representative of your ideals.

    His daydreaming about aliens apparently came well before the delusions set in. And delusive or not, you have yet to show why that kind of “hyper-rationality” isn’t something to aspire to. Why shouldn’t I aspire to be as rational as possible? What’s wrong with using the tools of decision theory and game theory to plan out my life?

    See the documentary “A Brilliant Madness” instead of the movie.

    Yep, looks like you can’t read. I never watched the movie.

    It’s an ego-stroking wrapper for the self-fulfilling notion “Society sucks so much, I don’t think it deserves attention to improve it.”

    And in repeating that meme of self-fulfilling inaction, you’re actively sabotaging attempts to help people who conveniently aren’t you.

    And just what are you doing, you little keyboard slacktivist? Besides stroking your own ego?

    Look at this:

    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Food_crisis_in_the_Sahel_threatens_famine.html?cid=32513154

    That’s one facet of a web of an interrelated crises that will engulf the 21st century in endless turmoil and bloodshed. The military, the intelligence community, actuaries, etc. are all aware of this. For a good overview I recommend the book Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer and sources therein, like The Age of Consequences:

    http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/071105_ageofconsequences.pdf

    And these things will happen, because people are stupid. You can’t say it’s “self-fulfilling prophecy” because I’ve tried to argue with people before, many times, to no avail. Now, the best thing I can do is to try to profit from people’s stupidity. For instance: Didier Sornette has published research showing how to make robust predictions of financial crises. And China is a great example of an incipient bubble because people’s hard-on for their breakneck economic growth obscures the unchecked environmental and economic crises clearly underway in that country. Now, because I know that people are stupid and won’t listen, how can I benefit from this situation? Well, I mean to accumulate enough capital before the Chinese economy tanks to predict just when this crash will come and make a killing shorting stock in Chinese companies. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

    And before you come at me with more intolerably smug prattle, reflect on how silly you’ll feel when all these events unfold and you realize that you and countless other people like you had done nothing to change the status quo. (Slacktivism and frittering away time on stupid bullshit don’t count as doing something.)

  23. Ali Reza says

    – Science is desirable, of which robotics is a subset. Yay robots!

    Most definitely. We’ll need them for all the armed conflicts we’re going to be involved in this century. It’s pretty obvious that the Pentagon is feverishly preparing for the same. How else do you explain shit like this?

  24. says

    So leave this place. What do you profit by telling other people about your master plan to help elevate robotics at the expense of the human race?

    Since you don’t care about humanity, let humanity burn itself out on trying to better its lot, and spend more time working on robots instead of trolling humans. It seems like, of the participants in the conversation, you’re the one actually spinning your wheels, Ali Reza. Go deal with your robots and leave the humans to their peace.

  25. Ali Reza says

    It seems like, of the participants in the conversation, you’re the one actually spinning your wheels, Ali Reza.

    No bro. The market’s not open. It’s Sunday. I’ve got a little free time. And in any case, I invest according to a mean-reverting strategy. This means that my plan to fund research in areas I think have potential is a long-term affair.

    But hey nice projection you got going there. Keep pretending your little circlejerk here has even a tiny bit of influence on the world around you; makes my life easier.

    ps: short AAPL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>