Yesterday I was participating in a discussion on Facebook that started with a story Jason Pontin wrote about the programming shop on the floor above him in his Cambridge office. He's a great writer, and in just a few paragraphs he painted a clear picture that I had seen many times before, a high testosterone very male approach to development. I don't mind being part of something like that, but I wondered, why in 40 years of being a developer I had so few occasions to work with women.
BTW, originally I said there was just one woman I had worked with but later realized there were a few more, including a programmer friend in Berkeley who I had worked with on a non-programming project.
A blog post formed in my head, why are there so few women programmers, I wondered, so I switched over into my blogging tool, and wrote. I did a little revising, and then published the post. I went out for a bike ride with zero comments, and came back to over 20, which is an unusually high number for a Scripting News post these days.
Predictably, there were comments that inferred far too much from what I had written. This happens frequently when men write about gender. I had done this before, and expected to get a lot of angst so I wasn't surprised.
At the end of my post I said it would be wonderful if women commented. Although not everyone revealed their gender, there were a lot more women commenters than usual.
I want to learn, and have fun, and if the men won't work with each other, maybe the women will (and work with us too). There's so much tearing-up of pavement in tech. I'm hoping that by mixing things up a bit, breaking some of the patterns in who runs the show, maybe we can make things work better? It's something to aim for.
One more comment. Someone on Twitter said I must not have a mother, and that's so wrong, and over the top. I very much do have a mother, and today is her birthday. She's doing great. She's never been one to be stopped by barriers. In the 60s she took part in a eliminating segregation in NYC public schools. Later, once her children were out of the house, she went back to school and got a PhD, and had a career in education. Now retired, in a sense, she leads a very active intellectual, spiritual and community life. She travels extensively. She's an incredible role model, not just for women, but also for men, like her son. Happy birthday mom!