[FoRK] Programming language wars are really all about social bias

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Tue Jan 20 12:24:18 PST 2015


There is also a gendered perception of language hierarchy with the most
“manly” at the top. One Slashdot commenter writes
<http://books.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1517668&cid=30836564>, “Bah,
Python is for girls anyways. Everybody knows that PERL is the language of
true men.” Someone else responds, “Actually, C is the language of true
men…” Such views suggest that women might disproportionately use certain
languages, but Ari and Leo found in their programmer surveys that knowledge
of programming languages is largely equivalent between genders
<http://lmeyerov.blogspot.com/2012/11/what-women-want.html>. Women are
slightly more likely to know Excel and men are slightly more likely to know
C, C#, and Ruby, but not enough to establish any gendered hierarchy.

A major reason to eradicate these false stereotypes is that they perpetuate
biases against women. Evidence shows that a hostile culture contributes to
the “leaky pipeline,” the phenomenon of women leaving tech despite having
the interest, skills, and education. (Despite higher numbers of women
earning technical degrees, women make up 25% of the tech workforce and less
than 15% of the technical positions.) In addition to making women feel
underappreciated, viewing “feminine” skills as inferior makes people feel
justified in rejecting female candidates or passing them up for promotions.
Women seem to get a raw deal even though these “feminine” languages are not
underappreciated in reality: while programmers using “girly” languages like
Ruby and Python are actually among the most highly paid
there is still evidence that the gender wage gap in tech skews against women

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