A new essay on Medium titled “
How to teach your girlfriend programming” suggests that the tech world still has a ways to go in terms of its sometimes hostile, often wrongheaded treatment of women in the industry.
The article, by Jakub Arnold, a hacker at the Czech app development company Sensible.io, is not written with a sense of sly irony that a sympathetic reader might assume: It really is about trying to teach “your girlfriend” the basics of coding and programming.
It comes on the heels of a couple of unfortunate, well-publicised incidents in tech recently. The first being a stage presentation for an app titled “Titstare” at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference. The second being the exit from Business Insider of the company’s chief technology officer, after his Twitter account was made the subject of a Valleywag item.
The incidents were the tip of a longstanding iceberg, in that for years tech workers have been largely male, and assumed everyone else they deal with is also male.
Hence, in Arnold’s essay:
If you have a problem that you don’t understand even after a few hours, go ahead and explain it to your girlfriend. I don’t mean the usual talk to a wall kind of thing, when you realise in the middle of the sentence what you wanted to do and abandon the conversation. Try to really explain it to her, even if she isn’t technical at all. It will be easy for her to understand once you find the right metaphor.
Just keep in mind that she has to be willing to learn these things, you can’t force your knowledge into her, she has to be the one who wants to learn.
The piece begins with the usual nerd-fantasy-complaint about how hard it is to find a girlfriend who is just as into programming as “you” are:
What’s really everyone thinking is that it is impossible to find a girl who would be good looking, intelligent, interested in programming, and above all else, interested in you, the socially awkward geek. What are the odds of getting all of that?
Medium, founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, has become a favourite place for notable figures in the tech world to express their thoughts unedited, or unmediated, by the regular media. Medium is invite-only for now, and articles are curated by its editorial staff. The company has been criticised — on Medium, to be fair — for its insular take on the world.