There’s a thing sloshing about the internet just now, wrapped in the question Where are the women coders? The idea is that women are under-represented in the software industry, and that we’d all be better off if that were corrected.
It’s hard to argue with that. The tricky part is in why women are under-represented. That’s a minefield. Ask the wrong question – or even the right question, artlessly phrased – and a tempête de merde will erupt across the internet.
Today’s target is Dave Winer, who said:
Programming is a very modal activity. To be any good at it you have to focus. And be very patient. I imagine it’s a lot like sitting in a blind waiting for a rabbit to show up so you can grab it and bring it home for dinner.
…and thereby upset a great many people. (I’m not surprised. It surely was a dumb thing to say.)
My own theory – not that anyone cares what I think – is:
It’s impossible to disentangle innate from learned behavior in humans. The societal influence is too strong. So it’s pointless to look for traits inherent to men or women that influence whether they end up writing software for a living.
(Though if it were possible, the results of such an inquiry would be fascinating.)