Dessert, video games, and excuse my language

On Thursday I attended a web development workshop put on by Girl Develop It. The audience, naturally, was all female. We started the session with a round of introductions where the last piece of information we were prompted to share about ourselves was our favorite dessert.

The next day, I went to a JavaScript workshop sponsored by Code Fellows. The event was open to everyone but the room was probably 80% male. When it was time to introduce the concept of JSON, one of the instructors launched into an extended Legend of Zelda metaphor. I realize that’s pretty mainstream as far as video gaming references go, but there was a level of understanding and satisfaction that escaped most of the women in the room.

Both Girl Develop It and Code Fellows are spearheading wonderful initiatives to promote programming literacy. My experiences this week just reminded me that gender imbalance in either direction comes at a cost. Sometimes the trade-off is worth it because it creates a welcoming environment for people to pick up valuable skills. And other times a lack of representation can lead half the population to think that programming isn’t for them. I hope some day in the near future I’ll attend a coding event where I’ll find points of connection with my peers and be challenged by a diversity of perspectives.

On a separate but related note, I’ve never understood that moment in a conversation when a guy turns to the women in a room and prefaces a curse word or other colorful phrase with “Excuse my language…” before breezing ahead. What’s the point? To preempt my ability to be offended? If you’re really worried about upsetting me, find another way to express yourself. Otherwise, just treat all of your listeners as equals. Not all men are crude conversationalists and not all women are sensitive ingénues.

  • Lynn

    Agree. Also this happened way too many times at MS