Girl Power! (And the women of XML)

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Kill Bill Vol2Kill Bill\ We finished Kill Bill Vol 2 last night and absolutely loved the entire movie. By entire movie, I mean part 1 & 2 combined. Part 1 was a more visual feast while the second produced the story and dialogue we expect from Q. My wife puts it among her favorites, mainly because she loves any movies with “Girl Power”.

Women of XML\ This brings me to the topic of “Women Power!” in relation to technology. Dare posts this most excellent list of some of the top women in XML.

This list is very encouraging. I have to admit, that personally, I’ve never worked with a female software developer or system administrator except for the first month or so of my first job. And this isn’t for lack of trying. At my first company, the president was a woman, and all of our project managers were women as well. But the developers were all men. When we were hiring, my boss really hoped to see some qualified women come in to interview. If memory serves me correct, I remember interviewing a grand total of one woman. That’s all that responded!

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of factors involved that have kept women out of technology. Naturally, there’s the workplace chauvinism encountered in the old days (and I’m sure even now). But there’s also the bias that the current generation of employable women faced as young girls and in school. When you have a talking Barbie doll that says “Gee, Math is HARD!”, what kind of message are you sending young girls?

Apart from the subtle sexism, there’s also the fact that programming hasn’t been marketed to women very well. It has no “sex appeal”. Hopefully this is starting to change, but when the general public thinks about programmers, there’s the image of the anti-social grungy pizza loving Coke fiend (cola I mean) who is isolated and seeks glory by working 80 hr weeks to put out the next version of “Kill Everything That Moves And Make Them Bleed” first-person shooter.

Where is the Ally McBeal of software development!? There’s nothing inherently sexier about Law (as my lawyer friends can attest) than software. No really. Really!

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4 responses

  1. Avatar for Shelley
    Shelley August 18th, 2004

    I don't know where you work, but every place I've worked in over 20 years has had women.

    Might try looking at the atmosphere of your company and why more women don't feel comfortable applying there.

    In 1996, there were 378,000 science and engineering degrees awarded. Of these, 175,931 were given to women, 202,217 to men.

    Many of the sciences were almost equal in participation based on sex -- including math. In computer science, though, there were 7,063 women to 17,706 men -- a greater disparity than most fields.

    But even at that, women made up almost a third of the graduating program. These probably would have been the women you all might have been interviewing. Now, why do you think your company only got one woman?

  2. Avatar for Shelley
    Shelley August 18th, 2004

    Oh, and we actually work in the field because we like it, not because it's sexy. But is that why you work in the field? Because it's sexy?

  3. Avatar for (Haac (Haac August 18th, 2004

    Hi Shelley, I responded in a new blog post

  4. Avatar for Niels
    Niels August 18th, 2004

    Well I worked with Phil in the day when we had no female software developers. However, when I worked at the "OTHER" software development shop in Santa Monica we had about 30 developers. Of those 30 we had 7 female developers. When I got together with old team members we would ask ourselves if you were to start that company over who would you bring as your top 10 with had the most talent. 3 of the top 10 (and they would be in the top 6) were some of femaie developers!