[nycbug-talk] Re: Women in Open Source (fwd)

Louis Bertrand louis
Tue Aug 3 16:16:34 EDT 2004

On Tue, 3 Aug 2004, Jesse Callaway wrote:

> women. Really, think of getting into the fashion industry as a non-gay
> male.
But wait! Does that mean Apple programmers are gay males? Apple's sales
go up when they introduce new colours so I figure they must be in the
fashion industry ;)

Kidding aside, I think one of the main problems is how programming is
viewed. You can view it from the user space or the problem space.
The difference being "what am I trying to accomplish?" vs. "What tool
should I use?". It's sort of like the difference between O-O programming,
where you try to write code that models real world objects or concepts,
and procedural programming where you only think in terms of data structures
and algorithms; fundamentally they are the same, but you think about them
differently. I think we need radically more "thinking like users who just
want to get their work done" to attract women to programming.

Here's an example: look at the various spam filtering/blacklisting
utilities out there (nothing spurs creativity like being bombarded
with gibberish, it seems). They are invariably small standalone utilities
that blacklist or tag spam as it is detected. However, there is no
smoothly integrated solution -- you have to hand-stitch them together
with procmail or amavis. It all works, yes, but by the time you've put
it all together, you would have been better off just changing email
addresses and getting on with your life.

And finally, if this post wasn't already long enough, I refer you to
this interesting thread in the Python Edu-SIG mailing list "Girls,
women and Programming (- and Python)":

 --Louis  <louis at bertrandtech dot ca>

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