A few thoughts after a long bike ride…
I don’t care why there are so few women programmers.
I do care that there are so few of them.
I think we’d be better off if there were more.
We certainly couldn’t be any worse off.
I do believe there is specialization in the genders, and our art is hurt because it is so dominated by men. There really isn’t any precedent for it. Any other art, acting, painting, dance, singing, cooking, fashion, sculpture, architecture, you may see more men or women in one or the other, but I don’t think they’re as dominated by one gender as our art is.
Honestly I don’t care what non-programmers think about this. What we do is a mystery to most of them. What we do is hard. To do it well is impossibly hard. We could make it easier, but there’s too much ripping up of the pavement and starting over.
They don’t listen to programmers anyway. But we should listen to each other.
We can do better.
I am not hiring programmers. I haven’t employed programmers since 2002. So any problem that comes down to there are more jobs for x or y people, I can’t help solve those problems. I have hired contractors from time to time. I may hire contractors in the future. But you shouldn’t look at me as a source of a job in tech. But I might be a stepping-stone to one.
I like working with people who are highly skilled. In 2013, amazingly there are 18 or 22 year olds who as much programming experience as I had when I shipped my first commercial product. But I’ve learned a lot since then. If you’re young and love programming, that should be good news. That means what you do is deep. After ten years you’ve just begun. You’ll keep getting better and stronger for decades to come.
I also really like working with people my own age. I think it’s fucked up beyond belief that the industry throws people out just because they turned 40. If you’re young, you should be worried about this, and do something about it. Time goes fast, you’ll be 40 before you know it, and then the problem will be yours too.
I like to tell people I was 47 when I made RSS happen. When I was younger I couldn’t have done it. But supposedly I was washed up when I helped turn the publishing world upside-down. So when people say programmers lose their juice as they age, they are full of shit.
I love to meet great programmers, even aspiring great programmers. Tell me what you’re working on. What environments you use. All you have to do is believe in yourself, love programming, feel you were born to do this, and have the drive and ambition to want to do something great. And actually be doing it. Talk is cheap.
I’ve met plenty of people who want to program because you can get rich doing it. I’m not interested in those people. Making money is great, and making lots of it is even greater. But that’s not why one makes software. I do it because it’s my creative fulfillment. I love to see my ideas moving. I think of programming as math in motion. I would do it even if I made no money doing it (I have, most of the years I’ve been working). I would do it even if I had to pay money to do it.
No one is going to open doors for you. It’s a myth that people opened doors for me when I started out. No one believed in what I was doing. My parents told me I was crazy. All the adults shook their heads. Friends thought programming was for nerds, not hippies. Somehow I achieved my dreams anyway. But I did have lots of advantages. And disadvantages too. But why does any of that matter unless you want to prove the world is unfair. It is. Point conceded.
I may be 58 but I still have dreams. I want to create software openly with people I love to work with on endlessly reconfigurable teams. The way music and movies are made. I’d like to be a studio artist being directed by someone who has a great vision. And I’d like to work with other people who help me ship hits based on my own ideas. I know we will do this someday. I’d like to start now.
A few quick soundbites:
- If you find yourself fighting to shut someone up, you’re wrong.
- If you think “Who does he think he is” the answer is “an imperfect human being.”
- I will never apologize for asking questions or saying what I think.
- The term mansplaining is sexist.
- Fact: Women do their share of mansplaining.
I’m actively working on a development project around “Fargo” and the CMS it plugs into. So you can get to know what I’m doing now. I’m going to have more to say about it (I always do as long as I’m still kicking).
As I said, I don’t care about the people who think I shouldn’t write what I think or ask questions about things I wonder about or want to know. I don’t have time for those people. They are a huge waste of time. The Internet makes it possible for anyone to stink up the room. That’s not news.
I want to meet more people who are exploring, learning, building, creating, and solving some of the huge problems we face. I’m not interested in splitting us in two groups and fighting about who’s to blame for what, or fighting about whether I have a right to speak. I have that right and if you don’t like it that’s your problem.
I’m sure there’s more to say, but it’s time to do something else…
Namaste y’all and fear is frozen fun! 🙂