The One Where I Have to Explain Why I Want Diversity in Our Field

@RellyAB tweeted:

If you are a guy and you want to help fight the good fight, tell people why you want diversity and not dickery, from your point of view.

This comes after:

And this is in the last week.

So. Why do I want diversity (and not dickery) in our field? a) it makes economic sense, b) we need to create better software and more of the same probably isn’t going to help, and c) it’s the human thing to do.

It Makes Economic Sense

Software Development pays very well, and is in desperate need of qualified developers. The more highly paying jobs that exist increase the amount of money available to be spent on subscription codecasts, ebooks, and training materials. If there’s more money in the system, there’s more opportunities for everyone to take home more money. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Given that rather simple assertion, it does not make economic sense to drive people out of our industry. We should be welcoming people and making changes to our processes to become happier and more productive. We should be going out of our way to have a society that anyone can join if it interests them. We do not do this as an industry, and that does not make macro or micro-economic sense.

Given the extraordinary and unsatiable appetite our industry has for developers, it makes sense to teach people with an aptitude and interest for programming to do so. It is a way for low income families to have a better life. We should encourage this.

When Women Make More Money, Everybody Wins

It Will Result in Better Software

Software gets better when we can break outside of our mental models and solve problems using a different mindset. What a fully functioning group needs is not 10 “rockstars” who think the same – that tends to lead to group think and programs that solve the wrong problems.

What groups need is diversity in world views, shared experiences, and cultural references. If you want to build an app that only people in your specific niche in the world truly get, you should eschew diversity. If you want to have as many people in the world use your software, you should embrace diversity.

Women are making robots more humane

It’s the human thing to do

Things I believe in, an incomplete list:

  • It is wrong to treat someone differently because of {skin-color gender sexuality anything}.
  • Gender, skin-color, and sexuality has no impact on the creative or analytical skillset
  • There is no basis that men are better at software development than women (see the inventor of the compiler) [1]]

I believe it is no longer acceptable to sit back and say the status quo is good enough. Because it is not good enough. From healthcare to income inequality to a growing police state – the status quo is not good enough and we should not be defending it.

Think of how people were treated fifty years ago — we’ve changed since then — but think about how you consider people who defended the status quo in the 1960s (my assumption here is that you do not think fondly of them).

Be the person you want 2063-you to be proud of. I do not see any possible way that includes treating women as if they don’t belong in any profession.

In Conclusion

Don’t we (collectively) believe that happier developers make for more productive developers? Don’t we want our software to make the world a better place? That starts with treating all people as human. Next, go out of your way to help.

Ways to help:

  • Call people out for being sexist
  • Lower prices and other barriers to entry for women to learn our craft
  • Don’t be awful to anyone
  • Mentor and teach RailsGirls and RailsBridge both target women developers.

I have disabled comments; To continue the discussion, let’s talk on twitter – or better yet, write a blog post in response and/or in agreement.

[1] In fact, with the advancements that young girls have over young boys in math and science, one could conclude that we are losing our best developers before they get started. Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance

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