The percentage of women in IT is low and falling. The few female software developers that I’ve worked with have been either incredibly thick-skinned and/or so good at their job that everything they do is pretty much beyond reproach. The worst developers I’ve worked with have been male but that’s how normal distribution works in statistics rather than any inherent gender traits. Hell, I’ve sometimes been lumped into that group myself because it’s all subjective and influenced by people’s perceptions (honest).
Either she goes or I do
One of my early jobs was software development within a media concern. In the IT department was one woman. A colleague with a penchant for cheap nylon-suits could not spend enough time denigrating her abilities, both to her face and behind her back. As nylon-suit was naturally cantankerous it was assumed that this was a mere clash of personalities. Once a second woman joined the department it was apparent that we’d mistaken misogyny for abrasiveness. There was a happy ending though; after various heated arguments nylon-suit delivered management an ultimatum: if they didn’t remove his new colleague then he would quit. To its credit, management took the third, unmentioned, option and the man-made fibre wearing misogynist was packing his personal effects into a cardboard box before the day was through.
So as I was searching for a quick answer to a problem, I happened across an innocuous question on Stackoverflow regarding the framework I’m currently using, Laravel. The first response was sensible enough. The second responder gave a withering response, offered a link to the wrong documentation which did not contain any of the keywords within the question and just for good measure marked down the original question – reputation is everything on Stackoverflow. The third responder jumped upon the previous correspondent’s bullying, offered no answer but simply proffered that the framework in question was “badly designed” and gave a link back to his own website where a non-comprehensive and non-conclusive generic analysis of frameworks is offered, presumably authored with the same care and attention to detail present within the original answer.
If you believe that the only bad question is the question left unasked then the above example must prompt this question: is this this kind of pseudo-intellectual posturing cum gang bullying that helps discourage women and, let’s be frank, balanced individuals too, from entering IT?
Homer at the Bat
IT and software development in particular are cerebral activities. But deep thinking can cause arrogance, misplaced self-belief, disconnect from reality and a failure to recognise that no matter how good you are at something, there’s always about a million people better than you.