I don’t like the trend toward “brogrammers”—that is, a very chauvinistic, juvenile attitude that seems to be creating a male-centric, female-exclusionary culture in software development departments—and across IT. It’s time to put an end to the put-downs, pin-ups, constant sports in-jokes and warfare metaphors, management by belittlement, and insulting locker-room attitude.
When I was a student studying math and computer science, nearly all of my fellow students, and nearly all of the faculty, were male. Although my idol was Admiral Grace Hopper, there were few Grace Hoppers in our profession to serve as role models for young women, or for men.
Change came slowly. In the 1980s, nearly all writers of technical articles in computer magazines were male. Nearly all readers were male. Nearly all attendees of technology conferences were male; the females at the show were almost exclusively marketers or booth babes.
Much has changed in the past few decades. For example, while the demographic research shows that most SD Times readers are male, the percentage of female readers is rising. The same is true of the technical conferences that our company produces. While female faces are still a minority, that is becoming less true every year, thanks in part to organizations like the Anita Borg Foundation.
That’s a good thing. A very good thing. Our fast-growing, demanding profession needs all the brainpower we can get. Women, we need you. Having female programmers on your team doesn’t mean that you need to buy pink mice and purple IDEs. It means that you have more top-notch architects, coders and testers, and you will create better software faster.
That’s why the so-called brogrammer trend is so infuriating. Why don’t managers and executives understand?
A few days ago, a female techie friend wrote to me in anger about a new website called Hot Tech Today, which features short technology stories allegedly written by attractive young women posing in bikinis.
We are better than this. We must be better than this.
Let’s put our resources into changing the brogrammer culture. Let’s make our profession not only safe for women, but also inviting and friendly. That means ditching the inappropriate language, curbing the stupid jokes, stopping the subtle put-downs of the women in your organization, and having a zero-tolerance rule for anyone who creates a hostile work environment for anyone, regardless of gender, race, national origin or anything.
Brogrammers. Just say no.
For more on this nasty trend, see:
• The Rise of the Brogrammer, by SD Times’ Victoria Reitano
• Oh Hai Sexism, by Charles Arthur
• In tech, some bemoan the rise of the ‘brogrammer’ culture, by Doug Gross
• In war for talent, ‘brogrammers’ will be losers, by Gina Trapani
Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Read his blog at ztrek.blogspot.com.