Female Programmers

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#1 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 10:45 AM

I did a search on this before I posted, and the only thread I saw was well over a year old. Didn't want to get locked for booting up an old thread so...

When I was at my first college studying Networking, I developed an interest in programming. I had a female teacher that had been coding since the 70's.

My classes started with about 40% women. By the end of the first semester I was the only female left. When I asked my professor about it, she said

"If you want to be a programmer, know that you're going into a man's world. You better have balls of steel."

I wonder what I will be facing in the workplace when I graduate with my shiny new Programming degree. This semester, my beginner's C++ class began with 8 women. They had all dropped out by midterm, except one who I have been trying to help. She just told me she failed the class and isn't sure if she'll change majors or take it again.

I admit to having moments where I wanted to quit, but I think that has less to do with gender than general frustrations with the steep learning curve I was facing.

Do I need balls of steel? In general I've always hung out with guys, but I wonder if I'm going to have an uphill fight to be taken seriously as a coder.

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Replies To: Female Programmers

#2 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 10:52 AM

Anytime someone tells you that, refer them to the history of Ada Lovelace

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Her notes were labeled alphabetically from A to G. In note G, the Countess describes an algorithm for the analytical engine to compute Bernoulli numbers. It is considered the first algorithm ever specifically tailored for implementation on a computer, and for this reason she is often cited as the first computer programmer.

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#3 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is online

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 10:52 AM

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I wonder what I will be facing in the workplace when I graduate with my shiny new Programming degree.


A job where you ask "Do you want fries with that?"

The degree just says you can get through school. It doesn't say anything about your skills. In a down economy where employers can get senior coders with 10+ years of experience for the pay of rookies... Why would they actually hire a rookie with no track record and little actual experience in the real world / job market?

Sorry to be so blunt - but that's just the world right now. Its a down economy and a "buyer's market" when it comes to hiring.

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I wonder if I'm going to have an uphill fight to be taken seriously as a coder.

Stop wondering. You will. But it will be as much or more about your age and inexperience as about gender.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 14 December 2011 - 10:54 AM

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#4 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:10 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 14 December 2011 - 12:52 PM, said:

A job where you ask "Do you want fries with that?"

The degree just says you can get through school. It doesn't say anything about your skills. In a down economy where employers can get senior coders with 10+ years of experience for the pay of rookies... Why would they actually hire a rookie with no track record and little actual experience in the real world / job market?

Sorry to be so blunt - but that's just the world right now. Its a down economy and a "buyer's market" when it comes to hiring.


You paint a very grim picture, but that hasn't been the case for people I know personally. I understand that a diploma is just a piece of paper, but it's a piece of paper that I work very hard for. I'm not an idiot, or a poor student.

I have 2 friends that graduated last year with the same degree I am pursuing. It took them a couple of months, but they both found entry level jobs as programmers. The job market for coders in my area is strong. I don't doubt that I can find a job that doesn't involve french fries. My question is, will I be respected as a competent programmer (assuming I am one)? I'll likely be making 75% of what my male counterparts do based on gender alone.

View PostKilorn, on 14 December 2011 - 12:52 PM, said:

Anytime someone tells you that, refer them to the history of Ada Lovelace


Ha that's AWESOME.
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#5 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:12 AM

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View Postsynlight, on 14 December 2011 - 10:45 AM, said:

...
Do I need balls of steel? In general I've always hung out with guys, but I wonder if I'm going to have an uphill fight to be taken seriously as a coder.


I don't know whoever the hell told you all this but you'll notice the gender bias leave when you get further in your degree and all the immature kids get chewed up and shat out.

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This semester, my beginner's C++ class began with 8 women. They had all dropped out by midterm, except one who I have been trying to help. She just told me she failed the class and isn't sure if she'll change majors or take it again.


Women who code in C++ are real men too.
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#6 dorknexus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:14 AM

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I'll likely be making 75% of what my male counterparts do based on gender alone.


This almost entirely a myth in modern times and not to mention highly illegal. If you are doing the same work as someone else in your company and they aren't paying you close to the same amount then they better have a damn good explanation for it.

Wikipedia has this to say about the gender gap in wages:

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The female-to-male earnings ratio of 0.77 means that, in 2009, female FTYR workers earned 23% less than male FTYR workers. The statistic does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, education or hours worked, as long as it qualifies as full-time work.


So in other words, a completely unfair comparison between male and female wage earners.

This post has been edited by dorknexus: 14 December 2011 - 11:19 AM

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#7 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is online

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:14 AM

I think that has nothing to do with coding specifically and more to do with the company.

The same issues are in every company. If you went to work on an oil rig would you be taken lightly as a woman? What about a law firm? Police woman?

You're basically asking "What do all people think?"

It depends on who you are, how you present yourself, what the company you are working for is like, what the management style there is like. One firm might have a "good ole boy" way of working. The next one won't.

Game producer X might have people that don't care less about gender. While accounting software producer Y is all about the testicle bias.

Its exactly the same way as the degree. For every company out there that hires student-rookies there is one that doesn't. You're friends found entry level jobs with a degree. Cool. That company. Your area. Different company in a different city would be different results.
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#8 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:15 AM

View PostWolfCoder, on 14 December 2011 - 01:12 PM, said:

I don't know whoever the hell told you all this but you'll notice the gender bias leave when you get further in your degree and all the immature kids get chewed up and shat out.

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This semester, my beginner's C++ class began with 8 women. They had all dropped out by midterm, except one who I have been trying to help. She just told me she failed the class and isn't sure if she'll change majors or take it again.


Women who code in C++ are real men too.


Well, to be fair it was a professor who had been coding for almost 30 years. I'm sure she had to fight some serious battle in her time, and she was tough as nails.
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#9 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:15 AM

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As a female in the field, I can tell you from personal experience that you WILL have an uphill battle. You will find sexism running rampant along the path. And your professor is right, you WILL need balls of steel.

That being said, take any entry level position you can get your hands on, do boatloads of freelance work on the side, build a portfolio of kick-ass projects, and keep clawing your way from one position to another until you find one where you are respected and appreciated. It'll come along eventually.
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#10 bonyjoe  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:17 AM

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I work with a couple of female programmers and they are two of the best programmers in the company, I think the only thing that will get you respected less as a programmer is if you keep referring to yourself as a female programmer and expecting people to treat you differently because of it.
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#11 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:18 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 14 December 2011 - 01:14 PM, said:

I think that has nothing to do with coding specifically and more to do with the company.

The same issues are in every company. If you went to work on an oil rig would you be taken lightly as a woman? What about a law firm? Police woman?

You're basically asking "What do all people think?"

It depends on who you are, how you present yourself, what the company you are working for is like, what the management style there is like. One firm might have a "good ole boy" way of working. The next one won't.

Game producer X might have people that don't care less about gender. While accounting software producer Y is all about the testicle bias.

Its exactly the same way as the degree. For every company out there that hires student-rookies there is one that doesn't. You're friends found entry level jobs with a degree. Cool. That company. Your area. Different company in a different city would be different results.


I appreciate that. It's all very true. I guess I was just hoping to get an overall feel for the field in general. I know a lot of how I'm perceived depends on how I present myself, the same way it does for a man. I suppose I've just been warned going in that I need battle gear, but it seems that may not be the case.
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#12 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:19 AM

View PostBenignDesign, on 14 December 2011 - 11:15 AM, said:

As a female in the field, I can tell you from personal experience that you WILL have an uphill battle. You will find sexism running rampant along the path. And your professor is right, you WILL need balls of steel.

That being said, take any entry level position you can get your hands on, do boatloads of freelance work on the side, build a portfolio of kick-ass projects, and keep clawing your way from one position to another until you find one where you are respected and appreciated. It'll come along eventually.


No, MAYBE is the correct all caps word here since it depends on the employer.

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I think that has nothing to do with coding specifically and more to do with the company.


It doesn't hurt to have fury anyways, though. Make everyone understand you're going to destroy them at every level you can in an instant without their knowing if they cross you.

This post has been edited by WolfCoder: 14 December 2011 - 11:20 AM

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#13 synlight  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:22 AM

View Postbonyjoe, on 14 December 2011 - 01:17 PM, said:

I work with a couple of female programmers and they are two of the best programmers in the company, I think the only thing that will get you respected less as a programmer is if you keep referring to yourself as a female programmer and expecting people to treat you differently because of it.


Does that mean I have to stop running around campus screaming "I'm a female programmer! Respect me, dammit!"

LOL it's not like I stand around all day referring to myself like that. It's for current discussion purposes only.

Well, it seems like the consensus so far is maybe. That's what I was looking for, some first hand experience from ahem.. female programmers who have lived it.

But I also get the sense, that as long as I work hard and I'm good at what I do I'll be fine.
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#14 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:22 AM

Yeah that's one thing, I know it's for discussion but be sure not to mention that you're a female who codes. It's kind of like the "gamer girls" who keep telling you they're "gamer girls" while they are probably not really gamers and perhaps not even girls VS. the real "gamer girls" who are just gamers.


Turn your uneasiness into rage, that's the best way to get rid of it.

This post has been edited by WolfCoder: 14 December 2011 - 11:24 AM

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#15 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Female Programmers

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:23 AM

View PostWolfCoder, on 14 December 2011 - 01:19 PM, said:

No, MAYBE is the correct all caps word here since it depends on the employer.


No. WILL is the appropriate term.
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