Silhouette of a smiling man over a broken pipe

It wasn’t always a men’s world

I planned to write something else for today, an article about CSS Regions and why we need them but one Googler decided to blow up my Twitter feed with his manifesto over the weekend. One junior developer with zero empathy skills and zero knowledge of the industry’s history.

If I were one female recruiter with whom I spoke recently I’d start this post with Lord Byron. But I am not her, I’ll start with The Enchantress of Numbers, Countess Ada Lovelace1. She was a mathematician and a writer in Victorian Era in England. She was also the first person to publish an algorithm2 and therefore she is considered the first programmer. So at that time 100% of all programmers were female.

After Ada Lovelace when computers started to appear the vast majority of programmers were women because the bosses and “proper” computer engineers who developed the hardware thought about programming as clerical work, something for women, not worthy of men. As recently as 1967 programming was considered a good job for women, at least that’s how Cosmopolitan presented it in their article “The Computer Girls”.

It wasn’t until the computers became cool when men realized that it is a worthy profession and not just a clerical work. In order to make it more prestigious profession worthy of men new requirements started to appear. For example more men than women took and still take math classes at university. And most this is the reason that today3 exists a fallacy that you have to be really good in math to become a programmer even though I and vast majority of my colleagues don’t use it in our professional lives that often.

In mid-80’s when women began finally catching up to men in computer science academia something happened that made women leave, better said women stopped considering the computer science as an viable career option. There are couple of theories that at the time computers were heavily marketed to young boys and girls weren’t welcomed there. But I don’t know enough about that because I don’t have enough data.

Today we’re at a point when some companies try to get more women interested in programming mostly because there is a shortage of developers and at the same time the same companies tolerate a-holes, excusez mon français, who don’t consider women good programmers because we have estrogen in our bodies, not testosteron. We probably should teach history of programming at universities with the same importance as math to get rid of people like that trash Googler with his trashy manifesto.

P.S.: Dear recruiters, when I ask about female developers in your company, please, write me an essay what they did and how they progressed to (top) managerial positions. And for G-d’s sake don’t start with “it’s men’s world”. It doesn’t have to be and for your own sake don’t help build the world only for men.

P.S.2: Dear HR people, it is time to stop protecting sexist a-holes and start protecting marginalized people in your companies. Let’s face it marginalized people in tech have raised bar and produce better stuff.

Sources:

  1. Ada Lovelace is the only legitimate child of Lord Byron
  2. At least in modern times in Europe
  3. I heard it when I was pre-teen and teenager