Is coding masculine or feminine?

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With all the gender wars going on in the world, and the workplace slowly shifting into a more politically correct one, with ‘person’ replacing man, coding seems to be the next target on the list of these warriors. I read a blogpost today which claims that best practice coding is a feminine trait.

Emma McGrattan, the senior vice-president of engineering for computer-database company Ingres–and one of Silicon Valley’s highest-ranking female programmers–insists that men and women write code differently. Women are more touchy-feely and considerate of those who will use the code later, she says. They’ll intersperse their code–those strings of instructions that result in nifty applications and programs–with helpful comments and directions, explaining why they wrote the lines the way they did and exactly how they did it.

Men, on the other hand:

Men, on the other hand, have no such pretenses. Often, “they try to show how clever they are by writing very cryptic code,” she tells the Business Technology Blog. “They try to obfuscate things in the code,” and don’t leave clear directions for people using it later. McGrattan boasts that 70% to 80% of the time, she can look at a chunk of computer code and tell if it was written by a man or a woman.

While this may or may not be the case in the US, what about us pakistani’s? How many good women developers do we have in our workplace? While most women in IT in Pakistan might be considered to stay within the domains of quality assurance or technical writing, has anyone witnessed the productivity of women here to be greater to that of men?

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  • Whats with the picture – is coding somehow analogous to a restroom?

  • That may be the case in US, but I doubt it. Probably she can’t understand complex esoteric code written by men 😉

    I’m a staunch believer that in Pakistan the percentage of good coders among women is very very low. I’ve never seen one in person! (I’ll easily marry one)

    On the other hand, the professionalism in the field of engineering among women itself is low, hardly we see women who are career oriented. So coding isn’t an exception.

    So far in Pakistan, its a masculine thing. I’d love to see more feminie fraternity coming in with quality stuff.

  • I believe the number of good professionals in any field is very less. The lesser the population, the lesser the number of good professionals. So in a male dominated industry, dont expect a good number of capable female developers

  • I am not a gender bias person really, you have to think beyond the limits while hiring a female coder/developer.

    According to my personal experience in my 8 years of professional life; I have never seen a good feminine developer.

    Last month we started hiring few php developers and hired a conceptually good female coder, but she refused to code after 2 months. She said “I cannot code the complex things”. Now a days she is working in QA department and doing very well.

    I must say that there are some exceptional cases that you find some excellent feminine coder but usually females cannot do programming.

  • We just a large number of openings in our company and conducted interviews over this last weekend.

    Out of total 60 shortlisted people only three were females. Out of those three, one’s father was more than just a father – he was being suspicious on our HR Manager’s character even! Second one came in with 5 other friends of her which she called are there for her moral support and it turned out all she can do is most probably click on different buttons to check if they really click, and third one was no different.

    Hence I am standing here convinced without any gender biases that sadly there is no good amount of female Programmers out there!

    And only if it give any consolation to the IT people reading this, its even worse in Electronics Engg…

  • I tend to disagree

    At AKU we have a lot of female developers doing fantastic work

    They may be rusty on technology but their logic is very strong, that is the reason we hired them in the first place. We believe that technology can be easily taught but good logic skills are hard to come by …

    Sometimes we confuse technology with ability to write complex algorithms

  • osama: the picture was supposedly of a unisex restroom :p you know.. considered sometimes to be the extremest form of ‘equality’ :)

    midhat: interesting observation.. we have a limited population, but why isn’t there a fair representation between those professionals being women? what is holding them back?

    shafiq & UJMi: care to comment about why this is happening? whether its because these girls are conditioned that way? or that they are not capable in the first place?

    ansar: i’d like to come interview your development staff someday! its at least good to know some women in IT out there :)

  • What?! Not even one ‘pointers’ joke?!

    Even though my experience is mostly the same as that of the commenters above, I’ve noticed that besides QA resources, females usually are better project managers in Pakistan.
    This may have to do with what I call the female context-switching ability, or it may be because we Pakistanis are used to taking orders from females (be it mother or wife)… either way, I think that the good:bad project manager ratio is higher for females in Pakistan.

  • UJM: u must be working for a real lousy company that no female with half a brain would want to apply there!!!

    mansoor: limited population means even more limited liberal minded fathers, brothers, husbands and in-laws that who will let their daughters/sisters/wives/duaghter-in-laws work after getting a degree. What’s holding them back is not a lack of talent but the ppl who want to control their lives for them!

  • Its true we have a very few developers in pakistan n let me tell u the reasons i know.

    1. Development is usually not considered a 9 to 5 job n women r not allowed to stay late out of their place.

    2. They definitely have less technical knowledge because they dont socialize much. since they dont discuss much wid guys so they r kinda left behind.

    3. They r almost never advised to go to development side as ppl think this is just not their domain.

    4. n yeah last but not the least a development room wid 6-7 male developers sitting there is just not considered same working environment for many women in our society. I remember a colleague of mine who’s brother commented on her development room like ‘ aisa hai jaise koi net cafe ya koi dukaan ho. yeh koi jaga hai kaam kerne ki’

    But i want to make one point rather strongly that if companies in Pakistan allow telecommuting to strong female developers then we’ll surely start having more women in this field as well.

  • Mansoor: There is only one topic under CODING. Would like to see more on this topic …

    One good area is application of object oriented programming (OOP) in our software applications.

    Basically, I feel that since most of us use OOP languages like Java, and, hence we like to think that we are good at OOP. What I fear is that we are actually doing structured programming using an OOP compiler.

    I feel that we need to strengthen our OOAD (Object Oriented Analysis and Design) concepts and only then we can be good at OOP.

    Would like to hear what other people feel about it

  • This post was in my queue so long and at last I managed to read it :)

    I think you should join ITIM Systems in order to get marry soon :)

    No doubt, we have fewer female programmer than male but I have been witnessed some good female programmers.

    About the Emma McGrattan philosophy: I don’t agree… it depends on many factors … person, environment, time line etc etc.

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