Archive for April 16, 2012
Wow! Talk about going in the wrong direction for diversifying the computing industry! InfoWorld had a similar piece this last week about the ultra-male culture developing in the post-recession IT industry. This is so disappointing after all of the work of NCWIT and the NSF BPC program. It reminds me of the report about the IT industry’s resistance to publicize demographic data. Not just not-hearing the message, but explicitly resisting hearing the message. We require all learning sciences and technologies students at Georgia Tech to read Herbert Kohl’s I won’t learn from you which describes this phenomenon. I can imagine a caricature of the modern IT industry in the face of BPC and NCWIT, holding its hands over its ears and chanting “La-la-la! I can’t hear you!”
At some startups the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that it’s given rise to a new “title”: brogrammer. A portmanteau of the frathouse moniker “bro” and “programmer,” the term has become the subject of a Facebook group joined by over 21,000 people; the name of a series of hacker get-togethers in Austin, Tex.; the punch line for online ads; and the topic of a humorous discussion on question-and-answer site Quora titled “How does a programmer become a brogrammer?” (One pointer: Drink Red Bull, beer, and “brotein” shakes.) “There’s a rising group of developers who are much more sociable and like to go out and have fun, and I think brogramming speaks to that audience,” says Gagan Biyani, co-founder and president of Udemy, a startup that offers coding lessons on the Web.
There’s also an audience that feels left out of the joke. Women made up 21 percent of all programmers in 2010, down from 24 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Anything that encourages the perception of tech as being male-dominated is likely to contribute to this decline, says Sara Chipps, founder of Girl Develop It, a series of software development workshops. “This brogramming thing would definitely turn off a lot of women from working” at startups, says Chipps.