Do You Even Code, Bro?

I’m avoiding social media and gaming because I don’t want to see Star Wars spoilers. Which makes me realise how little I do outside of those things (mainly Dota and reddit). So what is there left to do but Netflix and Write?

A strange thing happened yesterday. One of my co-workers popped his head up over the partition separating our desks and asked me, “Hello colleague, do you code?” (His exact words.)

I was pretty puzzled by what he meant. He and I are both developers. Sure, he only joined about half a year ago, and we aren’t assigned to the same applications, despite being on the same team, so other than if he was looking at my screens over my shoulder, he hasn’t seen any direct evidence of me coding. However, I attended all the same developer team meetings as him, I’m the co-lead for the Java community group at work, and I even helped him set up his IDE!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a very good brain for quick wit, so the only response I could think of was to ask, “Is that some kind of euphemism for something?”

He replies, “No? Do you write code?”

I did want to snarkily reply with what I wrote in the third paragraph, but that wasn’t going to help anybody, and I didn’t want to risk getting pissed off at work. I should have just said yes, and then let him respond with whatever he was going to respond with. However, I ended up just ignoring his question the second time, and asked him if he was having a problem.

I solved his problem for him (which wasn’t even code related in the end – turns out our webserver had stopped), but I was completely flabbergasted. I have the word “programmer” in my email signature. OK, he might never read any of my emails, I don’t know, but I don’t know how you can go to developer meetings with someone and not have a lightbulb moment saying, “Hey, this other person in the meeting with me, who shares the same boss as me, must be another developer.”

To be honest, I am really reluctant to write this part, because I hate jumping to the conclusion that someone in a male-dominated industry is treating me poorly because of my gender, but I really feel like this is a gender issue here. I can’t think of any other reason why it hasn’t occurred to him that I write code. Before you ask why he didn’t just ask one of the other people he knows to be a developer, I was the only one there at the time, other than a couple of testers who he works with and knows are testers.

I’m hoping that maybe my brain is just fried from the heat, and someone else can come up with an alternative explanation for his question. The possibility that someone would be doubtful that I’m a developer based on my gender just makes me feel sad.

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2 Responses to Do You Even Code, Bro?

  1. Good to have you back on the blog!

    Avoid internet like the plague; 4chan have been spamming reddit and news comment sites with Star Wars spoilers.

    I doubt he looked at you and consciously analysed your gender. However, it probably happened subconsciously. This means he’s (probably) not a bad person, but it does mean the gender issues affecting the computer industry (and indeed most industries) are still major problems. Humans categorise other humans into subconscious boxes pretty quickly, and if he has auto-categorised you into the “not code” box, he’d be doing it based upon the outdated social norm of “women don’t code”. Which is of course what needs to change in our society.

    On the slightly bright side, the fact that he asked means he has, subconsciously, been aware that the social norm he is channeling is no longer the right one. Had it been five years ago, he may have ignored you completely and gone to seek help elsewhere. Again, not consciously or maliciously, but because the box he put you in could not have been easily changed five years ago without conscious effort.

    Probably. He could just be a dick.

    • Fodder says:

      It was a short-lived return… >_>

      I did manage to stay mostly spoiler-free before seeing the movie, so that’s good!

      You are right, the bright side is that he thought to ask!

      Only a few hours left until the end of the year, time to make up the word count!

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