Sometimes, there are problems so massive and pervasive that people lose hope that a solution or resolution even exists. The dearth of women in tech and programming has long been considered such a problem. Stories of deeply rooted discrimination, iron-clad boy’s clubs, and companies full of ‘brogrammers’ abound. The situation is such that even the few females that do choose the developer route feel that they must present themselves to be more masculine in order to be (at best) overlooked, rather than mistaken for a marketing intern that took a wrong turn and wandered onto the developer floor. Sailor Mercury’s piece on Medium, Coding Like a Girl, paints a bleak picture of the situation. Many times, the discrimination she experiences is unwittingly perpetuated by people who simply aren’t aware of how ingrained the programming stereotypes are. Other times, the attitude she gets is more malicious and even straight up hostile.
If this is the case, what can we do? If the majority of the females that do brave the male-dominated tech environment are chased out, how can we even begin to start reforming the system?
In Coding Like a Girl, the author offers several ways that everyone can play a part. There are also people like Tracy Chou, who is a rising star developer at Pinterest. She is a celebrity in the programming world, due to her mix of data smarts and rad style. (Need proof? Vogue profiled her.) She decided to start tackling the issue by defining just how bad the problem was: she challenged tech companies to submit the number of female developers they had. In doing so, Chou has drawn the line in the sand and thrown out the challenge: let’s make this better!
And so begins the slow evolution of an outdated prejudice.
How are you doing your part?