03/11/12 | Uncategorized

“Brogrammers”: Just One Of The Girls

Accessibility to tech rained on by “brogramming”.
By Adda Birnir (Co-Founder, Balance Media & Skillcrush)

I have been following the “brogrammer” meme for months now with a mix of annoyance and exasperation. I was bummed that Twilio, a company whose product I greatly admire, helped start this “joke” and then followed the Hacker News job posting hubbub and subsequent chronicling of “brogramming” by a number of tech media outlets.

But as I was reading about Klout’s “Want to bro down and crush code?” job recruitment poster at a recent Stanford career fair, I for the first time felt some sympathy for the guys who have been running around doing push-ups and calling themselves “brogrammers.”

Sympathy?! Yes, really. I realized that the people trying to recruit “brogrammers” have a goal similar to ours here at Skillcrush.

We want to re-frame the way we think and talk about technology. Although many people can find it intimidating or alien, tech-speak is no longer the singular provenance of the pocket-protector set. Tech belongs to everyone, and the next step is to make it feel accessible.

Almost every single industry makes or relies upon software. Your cat will probably learn to install WordPress this year. And yet somehow software development remains, in the eyes of your average American, the sovereign domain of the geeky, the nerdy, the under-socialized guy

This “nerd in the basement” is our image and recruitment problem. It isn’t fun, it isn’t sexy; when I table my own personal response, I can see that these “brogrammers” and I are both just trying to inject software development with some fun and a little bit of sex appeal. We’re both looking to make development feel more accessible to a group that might otherwise have passed it by.

Anyone can be an outsider: without brogramming, bros might just feel like one of the girls.

Issues of professionalism aside, brogrammers might lack tact, but they’re definitely marketing development in a way that appeals to a new subset of men.

Therein lies the problem: in an attempt to reach a broader (and necessarily male) audience, the brogrammer ideology takes what is generally latent misogyny** in the tech community and makes it overt. Right now we have a 4:1 male:female ratio in the tech industry. Is filling your slides with sexual innuendo really what we need to make the industry appeal to more people? As awkward and emasculated as someone might feel in a conference room nerding out about databases, you don’t need to alienate anyone to make yourself comfortable.

Joking is a-ok, but stupid machismo is not cool. I promise there are non-sexist, non-exclusionary possibilities out there for you all.

Protip: Everyone loves cartoon foxes.

So, bros, I challenge you to come up with a better joke. You’re smart (hell, you’re software developers!), and I believe that you can find a way to make tech more appealing without soaking it in Natty Light, dressing it in a polo shirt, and further alienating both of the two women who did show up to your party.

** Okay, maybe latent is a little generous.

This post was originally posted at Skillcrush.

Adda BirnirAbout the guest blogger: Adda Birnir is Co-Founder of Balance Media, a women-led client services and product development company based in New York, and Skillcrush, an online learning community for female creatives, thinkers and makers. Our goal is to create the next generation of digitally-savvy, creative females who can rule the web. Adda’s principal interests are digital media, progressive journalism, art and infographics. Check out her website here. Follow her on Twitter at @builtbybalance.



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