Why are there so few women programmers?

I've been a programmer for a very long time. I don't even want to tell you!

In all those years, I've only been part of one programming team that had a woman.

I've probably worked, indirectly, with 1000 programmers. One woman, 999 men.

The question is why? I don't know the answer, though I've pondered it often. It would be nice if there were more women in my line of work. I like women. Very much. I can provide references, if necessary.

Now, I'm sure there is sexism, probably a lot of sexism. But I also think there's something about programming that makes many women not want to do it. Here's a theory why that might be.

Programming is a very modal activity. To be any good at it you have to focus. And be very patient. I imagine it's a lot like sitting in a blind waiting for a rabbit to show up so you can grab it and bring it home for dinner.

There is specialization in our species. It seems pretty clear that programming as it exists today is a mostly male thing. Which also raises the obvious question that perhaps we can make it so that it can better-use the abilities of the other half of our species?

I invite comment on this post, but be careful about saying derogatory things about whole genders, which btw, also includes my gender. Thank you.

And you know what would be great -- comments from women!

Notes (written after closing comments)

This was not a well-written post. It came out of a discussion on Facebook about all-male programming shops. I moved the discussion over here, because this is where I'm comfortable discussing and writing, and I'm relatively new to Facebook.

The line I struck through was a mistake. I wrote it so quickly, and I move stuff around, and I move on before I've read everything enough. Today was especially like that. Anyway, I want everyone to do great stuff. Anyone who wants to contribute should be able to. I deal with a lot of limits on what i can do because I'm 58. Anyway, peace please and good night. Oh one more thing..

Also, I closed comments because they're almost all angry and personal now. Rather than moderating, I think it's time for people who want to say something to say it in their space.

Further pieces (written over the following days)

What you don't understand

So many people want to tell me what I don't understand, here's what they don't.




Blogging is all about the free exchange of ideas. You can't get me fired, I don't work for a TV or radio network, or the government. I am free to say what I think because of a wonderful thing called the First Amendment.

I am not intimidated by Internet flamers. What they do is powerless. If you want to make things better, work with people who show an interest in what you are interested in. Be open to learning as much as you insist on teaching. Never ever, under any circumstances, tell someone to shut up. If you can't take what they're saying, walk away. Hit the Back button. Or even better, recognize that the things you least want to hear are the things you most need to hear.

If you want to know what I think, read. Or ask. Don't let someone else tell you what I think. And don't let anyone else tell you what to think.

Posted: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 14:53:29 GMT