Wanna bro down and crush some code?

Posted on by Tim Rosenblatt

If you write software for a living and you're located in Silicon Valley, you have your pick of employment options at an array of tech start-ups -- yes, even in this economy. When a recruiter's pitch is: "Wanna bro down and crush some code?" -- like San Francisco-based Klout's was -- you get a sense of what that company is looking for. If you're a woman, it's not you.

That's pretty sad, but it's not all bad. As a woman and a software developer, crossing Klout off the list of places where I might work helps me narrow my options. I'd rather find out that an employer glorifies young dudes before I take a position than afterward.

In war for talent, 'brogrammers' will be losers - Gina Trapani

Ugh, what a tough issue. I've got a bit of a background in sociology/gender issues, and I see both sides of the "women in tech" issue. It's not exactly an evil-genius-sinister cause, but it does exist, is a serious issue, and there's no easy fix. It's a recipe for problems.

I've seen another side of this too. I went to a women in tech event to meet a friend there. There were a very few guys there, almost the opposite of a typical tech meetup. I got there early, so I started introducing myself and chatting the same way I do at the many events I go to. I was immediately accused of being there to pick up women. I'm not pointing fingers and judging, but it does speak to the fact that there's a lot of pressure around this issue and it means some things can get misinterpreted. Things aren't always what they seem.

I agree with Gina's core idea -- anyone who hires based on anything other than the ability to produce results is going to put a ceiling on their results. She is 100% spot-on with this idea. It's practically a tautology, something that even the bro-iest of brogrammers should be able to comprehend.

I am sad to see that Klout has gotten dragged in. I've been fortunate enough to work (albeit briefly) with Joe Fernandez, the CEO at Klout. Especially considering the success that he and Klout have achieved, he is one of the nicest and most thoughtful CEOs in the tech scene, and is a great case study against the myth that to be successful in business, it requires being an alpha male jerk. I don't believe that Klout has the type of culture that's being suggested, the "frat-house fun" culture.

"Bro" has taken on widespread ironic use on the internet, and it's really hard to judge irony via text. I believe that if Joe had thought that "bro" would offend women, he would have struck it down immediately.

It's certainly not a good idea to do things that can be misconstrued as sexist (like the hiring headline that was used), and sometimes good people do boneheaded things. That being said, things aren't always what they seem, and I think it's a mistake to make assumptions. Especially in this specific case.

We're doing what we can at Cloudspace. One of our engineers, Sarah Sheehan, has mentioned to the Cloudspace managers that she knows females who want to learn how to code, but get a "weird" feeling about learning. This is an example of the subtle causes and effects of gender inequality in our industry -- it's not always the sort of flagrant Mad Men-issues that most people think of. An awkward feeling multiplied across a large enough group of people can have the gender effects that we see in tech. So, with our support, she's working on a Rails Girls-style workshop to help get women started.

Is there gender inequality in the tech industry (as well as others)? Yes. But in the case of Klout, I think that things aren't what they seem.

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