Common Sense Software Engineering: Letter to a Young Woman (Part I)


Author Notes:

 The following is a huge piece of writing.  It resulted from a conversation I had with a young woman who showed interest in learning how to program and possibly enter the IT profession.  It is also an attempt to bring the realities of Information Technology profession as it is today into perspective so that a young woman interested in this field can make informed choices as to how she may be able to enter the field either professionally or for self-interest.

 Those who read this piece and would like to pursue further study are more than welcome to contact me with their questions and requests for assistance at

I will do everything I can to help you on this long but potentially exciting journey while also offering advice on how to avoid the most serious pitfalls you may encounter.

In addition, since this is such a long piece, it is also available in downloadable PDF form at the following address…!AnW5gyh0E3V-g2bQ4UCq4Df-V2tf

Opening Notes… And there are many…

In the past several years there has been a noticeable effort to recruit young, capable women into the Information Technology profession.  From the articles I have come across on this subject it appears that there is little understanding as to why so many left the field during the 1990s and early 2000s.  The result is that many such efforts are aimed at technical training with the underlying idea that women are as good as men in this field of endeavor.  However, historically that has never been the point.

The profession used to be populated by a female work force of around 35% to 40%.  This number has now dwindled down to approximately 17%.  This reduction in female technical professionals did not come about due to a lack of self-esteem but more from a better understanding of the field has evolved in the more recent years.

The real question is why would any sane Human being want to engage in a profession that has few if any real professional standards, ever changing technologies that disallow anyone to become finely honed in their preferred skill sets, increasingly thins knowledge bases for what technologies and processes actually work to get the job done, onerous working hours, and most often bad working conditions resulting from the band aids that are being touted as the new software engineering standards?  Only really crazy people would enter such an activity.  And only really crazy people would rationalize that somehow this all so much fun.

To be fair there is a lot of fun to be had in this profession but that enjoyment of creating a personal piece of quality for another has been terribly overshadowed by the sociological changes in US society that has found their way into other societies as well, though maybe not as disastrously.

Women in Human societies have often had and continue to experience a form of second-class citizenship due to their lack of masculine attributes.  Even if they have adopted masculine psychological attributes, acceptance is still in many respects viewed with suspect simply because they have the underlying desire to create, nurture, and build; something which most males of the species don’t seem to comprehend let alone have.

With the exception of such aberrations as the Hillary Clintons, Madeline Albrights, and the Margaret Thatchers of the world, along with their “protégés”, when was the last time anyone can remember an intelligent woman demanding that a country go to war?

Surprisingly as this may sound it is this sociology and its offshoots that has reduced the number of women in a profession that currently appears to only cater to those who don’t mind floundering around in the growing technological quagmire that is the US Information Technology profession.

I doubt any amount of technical education or esteem building seminars directed at young ladies will increase the dismal percentage of female workers in this activity.  So far there have been no noticeable results to crow about.

A young woman I met while she was working at a discount pharmacy my wife and patronize told me she was interested in learning about our profession looking at it from the point of view that she has seemingly acquired that it shouldn’t be a “boys only” field.  She was of course right and it is my guess that the substantial loss of our female counterparts has contributed significantly to the erratic nature of the realities of working in this field.  Women often bring a soothing influence to the environments they inhabit and there is really nothing soothing about having your life upended by the constant cycles of deployment that Agile promoters have brought to the daily lives of professional developers.  Noticeably, there have been quite few pieces written about the constant stresses of such development styles that often lead to burnout.

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: