Monday, October 1, 2012

Programming Jobs Are More Than Tech Savvy

Millions of Americans, particularly those of the Millennial generation, tend to think of themselves as technologically savvy. Although the widespread use of smartphones might support some part of this claim, most of those self-described techies are not actually cut out for anything in the realm of actual programming jobs. Thankfully, there are a few cultural markers that can help one to spot the difference.
There are several linguistic markers that help to differentiate those who use and enjoy gadgets from those who actually develop the technology enjoyed by the masses. Consider, for a moment, the limited perspective displayed by certain word associations and definitions. Java is a country and a colloquialism for coffee. Oracle is a prophet or prophetess, the most famous of which lived at Delphi. Ajax was a Trojan war hero in Homer's Iliad. Python is a very large snake that will squeeze the breath out of you so fast you will asphyxiate before you suffer a broken rib. Linux is a cute penguin. (To be fair, the last is a nearly indisputable opinion regardless of tech qualifications on a resume.)
For people working in every other department, casual Friday is an opportunity to wear khakis or some similar variant. These folks tend to have an expression of bafflement, envy, or both when they look at the daily fashion show presented by those holding programming jobs at their company. Is this a stereotype? Certainly. However, respect must be paid to the tech pioneers who recognized the negotiating power of their vital positions and chose to insist on freedom from the barbaric traditions of nooses (ties) and spikes (heels).
In the land of cultural stereotypes of programmers, some are more ridiculous and unfair than others. First off, women do work in this field. They are not the majority, but they do exist. Second, men who work in this field do not have a problem with nor are they terrified of women. Whatever may be more or less accurately stated about particular social skills or lack thereof held by those who spend marathon hours staring at code, the presence of common language, common ground, and respected skill generally wins out over any difference in gender, race, class, or individual sci-fi preference. In short, not all "code monkeys" are male. Women work programming jobs too.

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