Break New Ground

Software Development Gender Code 2.++

Bob Rhubart
Community Manager, Oracle Groundbreakers Team

I recently recorded an ArchBeat Podcast featuring Helen Sun  and Karina Ishkhanova  discussing women in IT architecture. So it was an interesting bit of serendipity that I just ran across Researcher reveals how "Computer Geeks" replaced "Computer Girls", an article by Brenda D. Fink on the Clayman Institute's Gender Blog. Here's a short bit:

Asked to picture a computer programmer, most of us describe the archetypal computer geek, a brilliant but socially-awkward male. We imagine him as a largely noctural creature, passing sleepless nights writing computer code. According to workplace researchers, this stereotype of the lone male computer whiz is self-perpetuating, and it keeps the computer field overwhelming male. Not only do hiring managers tend to favor male applicants, but women are less likely to pursue careers a field where feel they won’t fit in...It may be surprising, then, to learn that the earliest computer programmers were women and that the programming field was once stereotyped as female.

"Socially awkward?" Clearly, Ms. Fink and I move in different social circles. And it's more than a little ironic that she uses one stereotype while debunking another. But don't let that put you off -- the article offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the world's most important profession, a profession that continues to evolve. 

H/T to Eddie Awad for sharing the article. 

And stay tuned -- the podcast featuring Ms. Sun and Ms. Ishkhanova will be available in a few weeks. 

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Comments ( 2 )
  • Helen Sun Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Interesting article. I think the self-perpectuation of computer geek is also self-destruction and the anti-social trait of software engineers is a big hinderance to effective IT. The days of programmers who are content with locking themselves in a room and having pizza boxes slipping under the door are over. Enterprise IT is about integration and business alignment, and for that, you need to be sociable and personable.

  • Karina Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    I noticed that the most successful IT professionals, both male and female, possess two seemingly incompatible traits: on one hand they can get into such state of concentration that they can dive into the code and forget everything and anything around them for hours if not days till they find solution to the problem/task/bug/ and at the same time they are sociable, or I actually like to use the word 'approachable' in that context - because at some point they should be able not only communicate their ideas and solutions to other team members, but be mentors to the junior developers.

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