Saturday, 7 March 2015

Almost the only girl in the room

    If you visit the loo in a department store before Christmas, there'll be a queue in the ladies a mile long, and no queue in the gents. Truth be told it's a situation you'll find any time, but never mind, it's a cameraderie thing.
    There's one place where the situation is reversed though. Visit the loo at a software developer conference and the queue for the gents is five miles long, while the ladies is just walk right in and pee.
    Yes, I've been milling around with about a thousand geeks and learning about cool new software tricks in a cavernous warehouse-turned-Evangelical church that hires itself out on weekdays for relatively Godless geeks to hear their technological prophets impart their pearls of wisdom.

    One thing had changed though since the last dev conference I attended. The first thing the organiser opened with was a statement of a code of conduct.

    This is an important and welcome change, and it's one that has its roots both in developer and startup culture, and in a couple of stories that made the news last year.
    It's probably safe to say that the majority of software developers are men. And it's probably also safe to say that the majority of software developers who work in the startup scene are young men. There has therefore historically been something of a macho culture among developers. It's even spawned a word of its own: brogrammer.
    Last year the industry received something of a wake-up call over the undesirable side of this culture. In March a female developer at PyCon Tweeted a picture of two men seated behind her making sexist comments. One of them lost his job, and after a significant fuss, a denial-of-service against her blog, and a lot of very nasty abuse, so did she. And in August there was the so-called "Gamergate" controversy, when a group of women in the video game business criticised sexism in their industry and received a horrifying sustained campaign of online abuse as a result.
    I can't say these incidents sat entirely comfortably with me from either side. I don't think job losses were a good outcome for anyone, and as someone who's ex-game-industry I didn't quite recognise the space I used to work in. But then again Middle England was always going to have a different gamer culture from California.
     What I can say though is that there was an undercurrent in coding culture that needed addressing. And if it took the certain knowledge that any twattish behaviour would be Tweeted in secconds to do it, then I'm glad to see the culture's reformed itself.
    I spent an evening after the conference drinking Stowford Press and discussing random startup plans with other People Like Me. No hassle, no bother.
   And that's just the way it should be.

1 comment:

  1. So many industries have started to enter into the 21st Century it is strange that it is one of the most modern industry that has struggled. So far I have been impressed and a little surprised by just how equal and accepting the Waste Industry has been.