Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The high cost of female coders

Read between the lines here, and then consider the consequences that hiring just one female engineer has had for a well-funded startup:
The exit of engineer Julie Ann Horvath from programming network GitHub has sparked yet another conversation concerning women in technology and startups. Her claims that she faced a sexist internal culture at GitHub came as a surprise to some, given her former defense of the startup and her internal work at the company to promote women in technology.

In her initial tweets on her departure, Horvath did not provide extensive clarity on why she left the highly valued startup, or who created the conditions that led to her leaving and publicly repudiating the company.

Horvath has given TechCrunch her version of the events, a story that contains serious allegations towards GitHub, its internal policies, and its culture. The situation has greater import than a single person’s struggle: Horvath’s story is a tale of what many underrepresented groups feel and experience in the tech sector....

In short, Horvath said that she felt she was being treated differently internally simply due to her gender and not the quality of her work. She calls her colleagues’ response to her own work and the work of other female GitHub employees a “serious problem.” Despite GitHub hiring more female developers, Horvath said she struggled to feel welcome.
In other words, her colleagues didn't think well of her work, she was having an inappropriate and unprofessional relationship with at least one male colleague,  her presence caused the performance of another male colleague to go downhill, (possibly through no fault of her own), she pissed off the founder's wife, spent considerable time on a project of no possible use to the company's bottom line, spend much of her time at the office in the bathroom crying, the founder has now been "put on leave", as has one of the engineers, and the company has inadvertently become the focus of considerable media attention.

How good does a female coder have to be to make her employment worthwhile if all that is the potential cost? Do you think the founder is likely to hire more members of that "underepresented group" the next time he starts a company? Do you seriously believe that every male coder who saw what happened won't remember it in the event he goes off to start his own company? Are other women, like the founder's wives, going to be supportive of their husbands hiring women in the future?

It's fine and dandy to proclaim that men and women should be robots, but it is also a fundamental denial of observable reality. Women are, and always will be, an intrinsically disruptive force so long as men are sexually interested in them. That doesn't mean that the cost of the potential disruption may not be worth it in some cases, but it is simply dishonest to pretend that it isn't a very real and important factor that needs to be considered by every employer. And the more the employment sex police attempt to impose their equalitarian "solutions" to the "problem" on companies, the harder it will be for women to find work in technology.


burgmeister said...

I especially like the hula hoop part.

Heuristics said...

The application of Game to the hula hooping in the article:

I would imagine her reaction to it was from a position of feeling that the men watching the women hula hooping were doing so from a position of much lower smp value then the women. Her instinct was then to think of the men as creepy and to shame them from doing it again in order to protect the women from being thought of as in the same league as them. If so it reveals how she values her colleges.

Anonymous said...

There's a common pattern you see these days:

In her initial tweets on her departure, Horvath did not provide extensive clarity on why she left....

Horvath has given TechCrunch her version of the events, a story that contains serious allegations....

A woman leaves a company or an organization -- or a marriage! -- and at first she doesn't really have anything bad to say. She just says some vague things about how it didn't work out, we grew apart, whatever. Then after a while she gets lawyered-up and her family and friends -- either seeing dollar signs or at least not wanting to get stuck supporting her themselves -- start encouraging her to "remember" how terrible it was. Pretty soon she's making all sorts of allegations that contradict everything she said about the situation before she bailed out, and then she has to allege that the emotional abuse was so powerful that she had "battered wife" syndrome and couldn't be honest about the horror until she escaped and recovered.

tz said...

Also, wives need to be kept out. The only mistake I can lay clearly on GitHub is giving a non-employee access, much less letting her be the company busybody, gossip, and heckler. The only thing worse than a woman coder on the payroll is one who is not but acts like a C*O. Even when it became obvious, the wife was not banned from the building, only told to avoid contact.

Robert said...

Actual robots cause much less trouble. I'm looking forward to the first startup with nothing but the founder (white male) and a few hundred robots. Then let's imagine the lawsuits and finger-wagging articles about lack of representation of the human species, or at least the only part of it that counts.

Unknown said...

My experience with working women in "management" is that many of them hold meetings and drink coffee and think they are working. Worthless make-work jobs - management, HR, school administration.

brian said...

The very few women coders that are worth having around aren't intimidated by men, and therefore don't go running away to have a cry in the bathroom when they are around them.

The rest are just taking up a space that could have gone to an unemployed male coder.

Anonymous said...

This is also the woman who objected to a rug that said "meritocracy" because it was offensive to women. Seriously:

According to an HN reader, the hula hooping was at a company party, not during office hours:

She's one of those trouble makers that get offended at everything.

Dexter said...

Do you think the founder is likely to hire more members of that "underepresented group" the next time he starts a company? Do you seriously believe that every male coder who saw what happened won't remember it in the event he goes off to start his own company? Are other women, like the founder's wives, going to be supportive of their husbands hiring women in the future?

Actually, yes, all these idiots will enthusiastically support hiring women in the future.

Because NAWALT.

And in the case of the male engineers, because they are beta male white knights.

tz said...

Of course I shouldn't jump to conclusions until I heard the old wive's tale.

Female rivalry and competition is far worse. And often over imagined slights.

Retrenched said...

Hire a woman, hire a lawsuit.

CarpeOro said...

Reading the link "" from toz...
Pretty much what I took away was the fear of competing and belief deep down that she didn't merit her job. Not surprised she made it all about how she was mistreated instead of her bailing because whe couldn't produce.

Anonymous said...

“I had a really hard time getting used to the culture, the aggressive communication on pull requests and how little the men I worked with respected and valued my opinion,”

This part highlights another problem with hiring women these days. She just joined the company, had a grand total of 8 months of relevant experience (and another 15 months of Marketing experience), and thinks the engineers already there need to value her opinion and assumes it's sexism and not her beeing a total noob that's the reason. Yet another smug little entitlement princess hiding behind her own skirts. The whole "You Go, Grrrrrl!" crap is ruining women, making them think the world and every soul in it owes them big-time. And that failure to lay out a red carpet for her is automatically sexism.

If places like TechCrunch really want to champion more women in tech (they don't, they want to sell ads so tabloid stories are gold, but just saying...) they'd run stories on women who get along fine with their coworkers, shrug about idiotic behavior from their male colleagues by saying something like "nobody's perfect, I'm sure I bug them sometimes too", and get more excited about their contributes to the company's successful products than to pet social projects.

Sure, it's be kind of a boring story, but frankly, drama usually isn't good for business.

Revelation Means Hope said...

partly true, but I'd put a different spin on things. I think it is the all powerful hamster that causes the changes, because deep down she knows it is really her fault or that her reasons are frivolous and reflect poorly on her as a person and employee.

Therefore, to deflect criticism from herself, it becomes all about how bad her employer was, or how bad her husband/boyfriend was, to deflect that criticism. As we get older, it certainly becomes easier to see through the excuses to the root causes. Well, if you don't possess a nuclear powered Ronco hamster.

Miguel D'Anconia said...

I'd be hard pressed to hire any "under represented" group member. They're a total pain in the @ss to fire if you need to. This will eventually bite the USSA in the butt because countries that can hire the best qualified people will win. Stupid shits.

Retrenched said...

@ jack amok

I think there's some apex fallacy at work there too. Women generally only notice the top men in any environment; therefore, they think "equality with men" means equality with the top/alpha men - ie, that they should immediately be given a high level position as soon as they join the company, and that giving them anything short of that is sexist oppression and unfairly holding them below the "glass

Dexter said...

how little the men I worked with respected and valued my opinion

"I had a hard time getting used to unattractive beta males not truckling to me like they always do outside the workplace. Why, the nerve of those creeps! How dare they not enthusiastically agree with every stupid thing I say!"

(If an alpha guy disrespected her or failed to value her opinion, she'd laugh it off.)

T.L. Ciottoli said...

Dexter... SO. TRUE.

I'm finally waking up to the fact that, generally, women are emotional disasters. All women are disasters, some just hide it very well or have finally learned to control it. But they're controlling its outward manifestations. The inward chaos is still generally full-on. If they actually seems confident and in control, they're either controlling things very well, or so delusional as to to believe they have this whole "life" thing down pat. Chalk up many in the "self-delusion" department.

Offices, corporations, and even the military (yes, the military services) are rampant with hyper-sensitive women. Another facet of our culture that has become feminized and therefore turned to shit. When a woman has an emotional problem (pick one, any one), she is not told to go home and handle her shit like a professional or an adult, or to take her own vacation days if she needs it. No, everyone has to tiptoe around her or hide. It's such bullshit.

And if you don't and you want to smile and get on with your day and feel no responsibility to take on her emotional bullshit, you're an insensitive sexist bastard. Soon she'll be writing up an official complaint.

No civilization exists where women and children rule. And its neither safe nor humane for the children or the women to let their emotions and sensitivities dictate to the rest of society. Woman up.

Anonymous said...

"I had a hard time getting used to unattractive beta males not truckling to me like they always do outside the workplace."

Yep. It's a good reminder of just how different life is for women of even moderate attractiveness. They become accustomed to people "respecting and valuing their opinions" by default, just by dint of their having had them. In contrast, as a man, I've never expected anyone to respect and value my opinion unless the opinion itself was valuable. I always go in with the assumption that if my opinion is stupid I'll be told so and maybe laughed at, with no hard feelings.

For a woman, having a stupid idea shot down without a lot of soothing hand-holding to help her through the difficult experience, must happen about as often as a typical man gets offered free sex.

paul a'barge said...

Here is Horvath:

It just never stops.

Once you put a Feminist and Merit into the same equation, everything crashes and burns.

Feminism is a culture of gender hate.

Marissa said...

Her username is "nrrrdcore", if I am reading Twitter correctly...

tweell said...

Not all women coders are like that! I personally know one that is very capable, and doesn't play the politics game. Intelligent, analytical, doesn't suffer fools well at all. Interesting thing - she has had a slow-growing brain tumor, just got it removed last year. I'll have to ask where that tumor was.

Anonymous said...


Please stop comments like this. We know that all females don't fit the majority mold, but enough of them do for the stereotype to have been created. I personally know 2 female programmers that were decent. I also know (currently 14) female "developers" that couldn't tell you how to access a stored procedure if their life depended on it. Women in the work place is a bad idea. They are worse than inefficient, they are anti-efficiency. This woman expected her colleagues to value her opinion just because she had one. I had to program for a decade to be able to expect something like that.

Anonymous said...

This woman expected her colleagues to value her opinion just because she had one.

That's life as a woman, especially if she's at all attractive. Every time she opens her mouth, people pay attention and nod in agreement even if they think it's the stupidest thing they've ever heard. For her entire life, most of the people around her have pumped her full of self-esteem and treated her as if everything she says is fascinating. Women do it to support the herd and avoid conflict; men do it because they want to sleep with her (or with women in general, so it becomes a habit to treat them that way). So she's learned that every opinion she has IS valuable.

Then she goes into a workplace where the men are either too busy to play that game or are self-consciously trying not to play it because they don't want to be accused of harassment, so they treat her like they treat each other, and it feels like brutality to her, like they're purposely rejecting all her awesome ideas for some underhanded reason.

Women probably just shouldn't be in the workplace at all, at least not in any kind of office environment where people have the time and energy for such politics. I realize sometimes a family needs extra money and the wife might need to go to work for a while, or a girl might work until she finds a husband, but there are temporary jobs that don't lend themselves so easily to these problems.

hadley said...

She is 25 or 26. Her looks are fading (notice the eye bags). She just isn't getting the attention she used to get and she is getting quite anxious.

She sicced her boyfriend on the boss's wife, and the chump too up the sword like some white knight. The poor b@st@rd [thinks he] has to massage her ego everyday to score a bit of quim.

Her hormones and existential angst are flipping her out and she just doesn't know how to handle it.

I feel sorry for her, sorry for her chump dude, and sorry for Github.

Nobody needs this much estrogen-fueled grief.

I do hope that she finds some alpha male to stick it to her good and hard, show her who's boss, and calm her down.

She will be much happier.

IrishFarmer said...

Then she goes into a workplace where the men are either too busy to play that game or are self-consciously trying not to play it because they don't want to be accused of harassment

I don't think either of those apply. I've been programming for less than a year, and I'm experiencing the "my coworkers don't respect my opinions" thing. I'm new, and most of the time I don't know what I'm talking about so I have to put in the effort to earn that respect. But it's not because my coworkers are too busy or are self conscious, it's because they put in a lot of their time and effort to get as good as they have, and by God they aren't going to let someone coast on their effort they expect everyone to put in the same effort they did to get as good as they are.

This sort of scenario does not bode well for an empowered feminist who thinks it's more important to hire women than to produce an actual product. These engineers may be mostly betas, but their betatude will be overridden by their desire to protect the value of their effort, knowledge, and skills. No one gets de facto respect.

Monica said...

I'm a woman and was a developer for almost 10 years. I was great at it, well respected, and I loved the work. It was my creative outlet. That being said, I was never good enough to be a software architect - which is the highest level of technical professional at my company. Once an architect would build a software architecture to work within, I could learn it easily and build within it but I could never actually build one myself. My brain just can't abstract something that complex. I started development right out of college - at the height of my SMV. I don't think I ever disrupted my work environment during that time though. Having been in a long term relationship since I was 18 I friend zoned every guy I worked with and I tried to foster a good relationship with all of them as a group. Everyone I worked with back then looks back on that team experience as the closest and most trusted they've ever been a part of. I treated them all like brothers and they all had a good comradery amongst themselves as well. Good times. This situation may be rare but it can happen.

tweell said...


You fail to comprehend. I recommend a remedial reading course. Alternatively you can read more than the first sentence and (attempt to) think.

My friend is very different, a top programmer (has her own contracting business by the way) who acts masculine.

She had a BRAIN TUMOR.

Now do you understand, or should I explain in Ebonics?

Bob said...

What really rages me is all the shitty jobs that have sprung up to give these women a position that will shut them up. Such as the “Developer Evangelists”. The most cunty women I’ve ever known of, purely in their jobs because they’re female and want to prove a point with “I can tech” glamour.

Seriously, here’s a woman’s description of the job:

And the measure for success: “From an evangelism perspective, the number of Twitter followers is a good indicator of your reach. It means people want to hear what you have to say.”

This does NOT belong in the tech field, with highly paid positions on a tech team! Along with everything else, they’ve created a whole job role based around letting women sit on fucking twitter and facebook all day, then buggering off to expensive conferences to gossip and feel important. This does NOT belong in tech, which is supposed to be about actually getting shit done.

Bob said...

Also as to the above, someone on Heartiste pointed out a fantastic quote in that link:

I’ve had issues where my code didn’t necessarily compile on the first try, and it’s great, because, all of a sudden, you see them trying to figure it out with you, and it becomes an engaging activity, as opposed to walking through a bunch of slides.”

And as he said:

"Only a chick could think it a victory when a botched coding job turns into social interaction… as if coffee klatsches were an integral part of the software development life cycle."

To the few women who can actually think in a straight line and write good code, I say good job, carry on and take pride in your work like anyone else. To the rest, (and especially the woman who brought her SCREAMING BABY into the office once), fuck off, just fuck off. We're trying to work here.

Anonymous said...

50 years ago, about 10% of the students at MIT were women. The current freshman class is half women. This will not end well. . .

Anonymous said...


If you desire to speak in your native language, then by all means. As for why there are a few women who don't fit the mold, I don't care if it's a brain tumor or she is a hermaphrodite. The point is that women as a group are disruptive in the workforce. I'm very happy for you that you figured out why this one woman was so different, but it's beyond the scope of the discussion.

tweell said...


He can be taught! Good boy! You can manage basic reading and comprehension after all!

It's a pity that you cannot manage to think further. It seems that room temperature IQ's and arrogation of discussion scopes go together.

Anonymous said...


I really hope you are a woman, because your conversation skills are definitely in the archetype.

Female arguments:
I want to say something that doesn't need to be said - check
Someone disagrees - check
I make fun of them for not simply letting me rant - check
They reply back with logic - check
I make fun of them by claiming they didn't understand when in reality I'm the one who is confused - check
repeat ad nauseam

If you are not female, I would recommend getting your estrogen levels checked as they might be a little high. I'll leave you alone with your "thoughts".

Anonymous said...

Or more likely- It has become apparent to herself that she indeed cannot do the work, and rather than admit it or learn it! she is instead copping out and pulling the feminist card.

Anonymous said...

@ tweell you act like a childish woman

Unknown said...

Hi everyone,

You've been featured over here by angry female coders:

It's basically a girls tech group, ie. "We're going to talk about how women are so discriminated in the tech industry, and how I feel about that."

astrocats said...

Am I the only one who's offended by "Women are, and always will be, an intrinsically disruptive force so long as men are sexually interested in them"? Kind of sounds like guys in tech are being singled out as being so shaken up by the presence of women that we can't write a line of code. That's just sad.

That said, women (like everyone) really do need to avoid being overly sensitive to professional criticism. If people don't question your ideas, what's even the point of discussing projects? I see this is a product of recent efforts to encourage women to go into tech by coddling them all through school-- if that's what you're used to, of course it's going to be a shock the first time someone tells you your idea sucks. And we've all had ideas that suck. I think it's extreme and just sounds petty to say women don't belong in tech, but everyone (including feminists) would be better served by a company hiring two talented women rather than twenty incompetent ones.

Unknown said...

At my workplace we judge code and communication. Things that are done, not superficial similarities between two people. Judging anything other than the work and character of an individual is small minded.
And individuals we all are.

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