Welcome back to month two of Lane Kolbly’s “I have a blog, I should probably write in it, but I’m tired and doing other things so I’ll wait until the last possible minute.”
In my defense, I moved and there was a hurricane 100 miles away from where I lived. It was quite nice (I like rain, at least when I can curl up under a blanket and watch movies while it pours outside. I’m not so fond of interacting with the rain).
So I thought I’d take this time to briefly revisit a topic that’s dear to my heart, sexism in programming, and share an interesting epiphany I had about my psychology (though I’m neither a shrink nor very self aware, I think that’s the right way to say that).
Just to clarify, I think sexism is bad, it shouldn’t be practiced, if you’re given the choice.
A while ago, for a class, I wrote a blog post as an upper-middle-class white male theorizing on why women aren’t as prevalent in the Computer Sciences as men. Incidentally this also satisfied all of the requirements for my Psychology Ph.D.
Reading back through that post reminded me of this “Imagine The Possibilities” advertisement by Barbie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1vnsqbnAkk. It’s an adorable ad, until the very end where it’s revealed that Mattel is actually saying “look at all the things a girl can be! In her head, that is. While playing with her dolls, which is her rightful place. In a few years she will be a fully grown woman, and can serve Totino’s pizza rolls.”
But I digress. In the lab at university, I’ve found myself to be quite sexist when it comes to programming, I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Whenever I meet someone talking about programming, if they are a guy I will require some burden of proof that they know what they know what they’re talking about. If they’re a girl, though, I generally automatically assume they are brilliant programmers (or, have the potential to be, if they go to Degobah).
This is opposite of most traditional sexism, so I’ve never understood where the traditional sexism comes from. I still don’t. But I think I understand where mine comes from.
I’ve met a decent number of people, male and female, in the Computer Science department. The males I’ve met are from all walks of life, and all skill levels. Common is the man who knows just enough to get by, or the one who’s just here for the money but they don’t really want to be here. Sure, there are any number of brilliant male programmers, but there are any number of not brilliant ones also (I place myself somewhere in the middle).
On the other hand, the females I’ve met are the ones that stuck around through all the industry sexism, and all that’s left for me to meet are females who excel and are passionate about programming. (realize that they could have been dissuaded from a very young age, or simply weren’t given the opportunity to try, I don’t mean that the ho-hum female programmers were in a CS program and then dropped out because they felt out of place)
The end result is there are three types of people I meet: brilliant male programmers, brilliant female programmers, and ho-hum male programmers. If I see a female programmer, I automatically put them into the brilliant category, because that’s what I grew up experiencing.
Which, to be honest, is I believe where most -isms come from. Being raised in a situation where there were a lot of good apples and one bad mango. You’ll associate all mangos with that one.
But, that is my story. Take it with salt, mull it over. The way to stop sexism is to see how it works, and think about it, and discuss it.
No, that doesn’t mean comments are now an open free-for-all (though I do receive submitted comments), go start your own dang blog. Or just tell me your thoughts next time you see me.