Do Alpha Male Geeks Scare Women Away from Programming?

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-04-30 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Why are there so fewer women pro-grammers than men? Do alpha male geeks keep them away? David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails and self-proclaimed "R-rated" male, raises the questions and offers some observations.

Why are there so fewer women programmers than men? Do alpha male geeks keep them away?

David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the popular Ruby on Rails Web application development platform recently posed this question in a blog post.

Said Hansson:

"I just can't get into the argument that women are being kept out of programming because the male programmer is such a testosterone-powered alpha specimen of our species. Compared to most other male groups that I've experienced, the average programmer ranks only just above mathematicians in being meek, tame and introverted."

Indeed, some have long said that one reason the open-source ranks have had fewer women than men was because of the vociferous nature of the open-source software movement in its early days and that women just did not want to be part of the discussion, which some deemed more of an argument or rant.

Yet, women such as the Open Source Diva Danese Cooper of Sun, Intel and now Revolution Computing, stand as proof that women can take the heat and cook in the same kitchen as men. But there just are not enough Daneses out there, Hansson is saying.

Hansson's post on women in technology followed one where he described himself as an "R" rated person.

"When I talk to musicians, doctors, lawyers or just about any other profession that has a fair mix of men and women, I don't find that these men are less R rated than programmers and that's scaring off women from these fields," he said. "Quite the contrary in fact."

Hansson said he believes the theory that "macho" programmers chase women away from the field is bunk. He adds:

"Now that doesn't mean the underlying problem isn't worth dealing with. It absolutely is! I think that the world of programming could be much more interesting if more women were part of it. I wish I knew how to make that happen. If I find out, I'll be the first to champion it."

Here's to Mr. Hansson. Bringing more women into the field is an issue we all ought to champion. 

 
 
 
 
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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