Where Are the Women and Minorities in Programming?

The lack of diversity in the field of computer programming has been in the news frequently over the last few years. And not just technology news, it has become a mainstream topic. The non-tech site Business Insider inadvertently raised it again with their “Here are the 12 most influential programmers working today” which is a stunningly non-diverse group.

This isn’t to take anything away from the likes of Sir Tim Berners-Lee or James Gosling. But it should give everyone in the programming community reason to ask what this list should look like 5, 10, or 25 years from now and what we can each do to influence it. Is there any reason that over that time, the makeup of the list can’t begin to resemble the population at large? Do Miguel de Icaza (for his work on Mono and Gnome) or Molly Holzschlag (the fairy godmother of the Web according to Sir Tim Berners-Lee for her work on CSS, web design, and accessibility) belong in this discussion or will they be the inspiration for a next generation of programmers that are more diverse than what we see in 2015?

There are a lot of great established efforts to better support diversity in programming such as http://www.pyladies.com/ and newer efforts such as http://adadevelopersacademy.org/ and http://girlswhocode.com/. I’d love it if you’d share some programmers who you think are breaking gender and racial barriers as well as groups devoted to furthering this cause.

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2 responses to “Where Are the Women and Minorities in Programming?”

  1. Michael Kay says:

    Well, here’s a picture of the Saxonica team: http://www.saxonica.com/about/contact.xml

    But of course you’re right: software development is male-dominated. There are lots of theories one can put forward, like you have to be fairly autistic and not many women are, but ultimately I think it’s a choice people make. The sad thing is that over the course of my 40 years in programming the problem has got worse rather than better.

  2. Bernadette says:

    It is really hard to be a woman in the programming field because the field is dominated by men and I have found in order to survive I have to be able to go above and beyond in proving myseIf.
    But also, I think it is a matter of priorities, I tend to like to program, but not maybe above the hours I spend at work, because when I go home I want to have a life that consists of being outside and a family. So perhaps, that takes away my ability to be on the cutting edge of programming.

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