Being a Female Programmer: How is it For You?

Ilona Codes on June 23, 2019

This probably depends on where we live and work, but personally, I have not experienced anything negative for being a female programmer in my few y... [Read Full]
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I happen to be disproportionately luckyβ€”which is how it should be everywhere, ofc, but still statistically I am lucky.

I'm in my first full-time web dev position. Salaries are transparent, my colleagues are respectful, my (male) team lead appreciates and listens to me the way he does other team members, there is a person to report misconduct to, etc. No one is even rude about my personal life, which is way better than most non-tech fields here. (It's culturally/traditionally common in my country to badger women who are not interested in domestic life. πŸ™„)

Life being what it is, I probably shouldn't get too happy just yet but I'll enjoy it while I can... πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ˜¬


Wow! Very nice! Being happy is never wasted. So be all the "too happy" and you want. :-)

I am however very curious. How does the transparent salaries work?
Does everyone know what everyone else earns?
I have long thought that the "dont discus your salary"-culture mostly works in the employers favour, and should be wiped out for the benefit of the employees.


It's awesome! πŸ˜ƒSo far you are willing to go to work and being in a healthy environment you have 100% right to much happiness 😊


I'm also one of the lucky ones, I'm from Dublin and have been in the industry over 8 years. I've never had an issue with salary, my boss or my male colleagues. Always respectful, fun and inclusive. I've gone from a junior dev to now managing a team of 6 men, most of whom are older than me and I still haven't found that to be a big problem. As long as I respect them they respect me!

My biggest issue is when hiring new staff it always upsets me that 99% of the CVs I get are men.


"99% of the CVs I get are men." Really? 😳


Yes unfortunately, maybe it's something specific in Dublin at the moment but I've always wanted to hire more women to even out the team (as long as they were the right person for the job of course!). I'm hoping more girls are coming through college and that it won't be this way forever.

Also Dublin here. Hired two team members within the past year and we also received maybe 2 CVs from women out of an applicant pool of 40-50.

It's crazy, I'm thinking of looking into doing a talk or visits to secondary level schools to see if the issue is that girls see it as a male dominated industry and that deters them from applying for tech related college courses. I know of the 190 in my year that went to college I was the only one that did something computer related!

In the UK they have schemes to background check people and give them opportunities to go help out in schools to promote STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Many girls schools contract those networks asking for speakers to come and talk about their careers. A quick google found that has a volunteers section that might lead to similar opportunities.


This is very common, I've met this in France as well, not only once.

Same with here in Italy.

In ITTs (tech high school specialization) generally are all male classes. The stats for all my years there were 800 students total and maybe 20 girls every year.

That I've seen, in my company we got 2 female senior devs. Both kickass at their jobs. And now we have a new hire who just ended her internship who's been hustling to learn to code, while having a non coding but STEM background.

Not sure what the numbers are in universities, I personally decided to go the self taught wrote. Could probably ask buddies of mine if you fellas are interested.


I never understood the hype to be honest. Never felt discriminated. But maybe this is due to the fact that I mostly worked remotely. Who cares if you're a woman or a man, as long as you produce very good quality code, it really doesn't matter.
Maybe there is something I am missing, maybe things go different in an office, I have no idea.
Yeah, I'm a woman and I code. So? I fail to see the big deal about it :-D
This is the main reason I stayed away from "women who code" groups, I couldn't see their purpose.
So I guess for me it's exactly as it is for every other "dude" in a team.
Also, I don't think men are allied against women in tech. Nobody tied me up and locked me in a dark room preventing me from learning how to code.
I just knew I wanted to code and followed the steps like any guy would do and it turned out fine.
It's not like there's a hidden conspiracy that prevents girls to follow their STEM passions.
If women in tech are less than men in tech is because most of them chose not to be in tech. They have other passions and I fail to see what is wrong with that.
Nobody complains men in fashion are less than women in fashion, or at least I never heard of it.
My honest opinion is this trend needs to be a bit toned down, it is too dramatic at times.
Also, I negotiate to the bones. You don't pay me less than you pay Joe that does the same job, unless you have a deathwish.


I have been working as a developer now for almost 7 years. As a female (and a lot of the time the only female on my team) I have been very lucky to not really experience any sexism or boys club culture. However I have always felt an internal pressure to always be better and "keep up" because it can still be intimadating. Regarding salary I have always pushed myself to negotiate because I am so aware that women typically don't.


My experience is similar to yours. I think the internal pressure sometimes relates to the boys' club thing too.

"The only thing I feel a bit left out is not being in the boys club. You know, all those guys talks, which is fine, as I don't feel interested in such topics."

The author doesn't seem to recognise this as an issue, but it can be. If all the men are mates and you're not part of that because you're a woman, it can mean you're less likely to be chosen for valuable opportunities and promotions - unless you're so obviously better than them that they basically can't not choose you.


That's an interesting take. I don't think it's the same for me though. I am lucky to get on really well with the people I work with and we have a lot in common. I think the internal pressure is just the automatic feeling of being a woman in a place dominated by men and feeling like you have to prove yourself all the time. And feel like you always have to be on top of your game. Like if a guy doesn't know something he just doesn't know it but if a girl doesn't it's because she doesn't know anything. And I'm not saying this is the culture I work, it's actually very supportive. I think it's just a more internalized insecurity which adds the pressure. Apologies if none of that makes sense πŸ™ˆ


Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top
By Belinda Luscombe Wednesday, Sept. 01, 2010
"According to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. In two cities, Atlanta and Memphis, those women are making about 20% more. This squares with earlier research from Queens College, New York, that had suggested that this was happening in major metropolises. But the new study suggests that the gap is bigger than previously thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%). "


An important caveat to this data: the analysis only applies to unmarried women under 30. So some specific segments of the female population are making more, but it doesn't generalize to all segments.

Here is the person in charge of that analysis with some more context.


Thank you for the link to the article and its statistical highlights! Interesting πŸ€”


Hey Ilona, nice reading!

Salary's rate. Women consistently make less than men because they tend to participate in less negotiation.

It really puzzles me that in 2019 there is still salary difference between women and men for the same roles.

Even women in the dev team are still rare, despite that there are many women in other tech job positions (most of my PMs have been women), UX specialists, designers, QAs, business analysts and so on. So there are more women in the team.

I can confirm this. The problem in our industry (Design) is that there are still very few women in roles like creative directors, and for some reason they need to work even harder to get there. It's a real shame such distinctions, because there are women very capable and they deserve being treated as the proffesionals they are, not "different" because they are women.

Thank you for your article! really enjoyed it.


Mind you, in over a decade, I still haven't been able to land a job coding at all, but for jobs overall where I'm currently living and working, the trend is that most of the men get raises without having to negotiate at all. Women, on the other hand, don't get raises without negotiation, but stand a rather high chance of getting fired if they so much as mention wishing they'd get paid more. Trying to negotiate higher pay is a great way to find yourself without any pay at all.

The assumption is that women are expected to get married early on, the men are to support the family financially, and the woman's job is to have another baby every year or so, raise the children, care for the husband's elderly parents, do the shopping, cook meals, and clean the house. If a woman works, it's assumed she's somehow defective as a human being (since she couldn't get a man to marry her), that she is an insult to her family for not caring for them at home, or that she's merely looking for 'play money' she can spend getting her kids on extra rides at Disneyland.

The tech we have at work might be in the 1990's, but the gender role assumptions are straight out of the 1800's. But again, this is about jobs in general here. We have one STEM job in the whole valley, and it's for the couple days a week the local satellite clinic and gym have any medical professionals in the area.

I may live in a 'first world' country, but we have plenty of near-third-world pockets. It's not all bad, though. We've had a new business open up in town, and it owned by a bunch of younger guys from the Balkans, which in turn is changing this place from an unofficial retirement community to a place where younger people are starting to think about moving to. I'm hoping this means a change in the culture, especially in terms of gender roles. After all, I experienced far less gender inequality during the 7 months I was in Kosovo.


Thank you for reading πŸ™Totally agree with your comment!


The only bad experience that comes to mind and actually acted as a gate-keeper and propelled me to work on my own was when I worked at a web dev firm downtown Toronto. I was doing most of the work from scratch while the person next to me did jack all. Every time a milestone was achieved this person would go and present it and I was looked at as the person not doing any work in the team. We also had arguments because I wanted to maintain a cleaner code base while this person wanted to just add libraries and let them "handle it". Also this firm was literally copying the work of another company.

I have refused to work with people who put me down since then and run my own company :)


It's not just all-male panels that have the "unconfident women" trope. I remember one candidate who was shy but she really came out of her shell in the (all-male) technical interview. She loved talking about what she could do rather than taking about herself. In the "culture interview", the women said she lacked confidence. I disagreed and fought for her to get on the team. I'm glad to say she proved me right. She was a very strong technical member, and had a talent for fixing bugs that others couldn't. As a team, we helped her to build her confidence with the non-technical staff.

I do remember a survey from one of our recruitment agencies that came out shortly after she started, specifically about women in tech, and asked men and women about toxic environments. None of the men thought they'd ever worked in one, all the women had, but were happy to report their current job wasn't one. I hope we had enough safety in the team that they were honest about that.


Women have been trained to be wary and cautious when they are alone with groups of unknown men. Put a woman in the room for an interview, even if you have to bring your girlfriend for that.

I've been an interviewer a few times, I think a cardinal rule is to keep the interview team as diverse as possible, people are sometimes biased in ways they don't even know. A diverse team helps with that.

The Glass Cliff: when management wants to promote a woman to a leadership role, even though she might not be ready for it. If she fails, management might use it as an excuse not to diversify these roles for women again.

Hate it, seen it happen, spoke openly against it.

Salary's rate. Women consistently make less than men because they tend to participate in less negotiation.

Can believe this is still happening all around the world. My advice to all people out there facing this situation. This is abuse. A subtle, socially accepted kind of abuse and you need to make it stop.


The only bad experience that comes to mind and actually acted as a gate-keeper and propelled me to work on my own was when I worked at a web dev firm downtown Toronto. I was doing most of the work from scratch while the person next to me did jack all. Every time a milestone was achieved this person would go and present it and I was looked at as the person not doing any work in the team. We also had arguments because I wanted to maintain a cleaner code base while this person wanted to just add libraries and let them "handle it". Also this firm was literally copying the work of another company.

I have refused to work with people who put me down since :)


The landscape of Toronto companies is wild and all over the place.
I strongly dislike working in bro-cultures.


I feel like the startup scene and web agencies are the two environments where it is still possible to find sexism (and general crude intolerance) that makes you do a double take every now and then. At my first job, many of my coworkers were South African expats and I don't feel comfortable even summarizing some of the vulgarity that I heard. And this wasn't "locker room conversation;" VPs would make jokes about domestic violence in the middle of meetings. Come to think of it, every female left her job while I was working there with the exception of the owner's family members.

I've learned how important it is to immediately put an end to dehumanizing language of any kind as soon as it happens, especially if you are a manager. One of the main reasons for me abruptly quitting my last job was the treatment of visa workers as essentially second-class citizens. They were segregated to a certain part of the office and were often the first to be blamed for anything that went wrong. The more I learned about their cultural backgrounds, it became apparent that company leadership knew absolutely nothing about cultural sensitivity, was unwilling to learn that or anything else which would allow us to empower those developers and help them feel like part of the team, and that senior leadership didn't care who they had to blame or how low they had to slide in order to avoid taking any personal responsibility for failure. It got to the point where I was having panic attacks going to work in the morning, and one day I finally told them bluntly what my observations had been and resigned on the spot. Pretty sure I lost every reference I had at that job, but I did not feel morally comfortable or safe to express myself at the job...I can't imagine how traumatic it must have been for those who were being actively mistreated.


Rare to read such a calm article on this topic. In my company, aggregated salary details are available through the unions. I don't think I can speak about those numbers, but on certain levels, men make a little bit more, on other - but less - levels women. The numbers are marginal, but it's funny to read the interpretations. In one way, it's interpreted tragical, the other way, it's explained as a normal result of more experience of men/women (guess) on those levels.

The boys club is funny. I read a lot and not interested in movies (that much) and series. I'm out of many-many clubs.


Oh yeah, the salary issue…
Generally, a human tends to share all their details with others. In the same way, employees will casually discuss their salaries also. But in a corporate, it is a rule that employee is not supposed to discuss his/her salary with anyone, so we are calling it as pay transparency. Because based on the company requirement the company will offer different packages to employees and it is absolutely not the same for all πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ


Is discussing salary amounts a legal issue in Germany? In the U.S. it's actually illegal to prevent such discussion (as well as requiring the disclosure of previous salaries in the hiring process), but the social stigma against it is extremely strong.

Obligatory College Humor video (jump to timestamp, 1:26):


Some great responses here and great discussion!

One question, why do women need more flexibility than men? All I can think of is childcare, and if I was a dad I would fight to be able to spend as much time with my child as possible. (Not trying to be obtuse, genuinely curious)


I think women prioritize flexibility more than men do because we are better at recognizing when we need it. We tend to be better at self care overall.

I don't think women need it more than men... Men need it too, they just have been socialized to think of self care as weakness.


Often "women" here does indeed often mean "mothers" (though as a childfree woman with many endeavours outside of work I welcome flexibility across the board!). The fact is in many places, the majority of child-related tasks such as daycare/school pick-up and drop-off, caring for sick children, and finding/providing care during school holidays still falls to women. Where men would like to take on more of this work, many workplaces are still unsupportive, and someone has to do it, so it falls to the mother. And let's be honest, inn many cases women still want to do the majority of this work and men don't, so the cycle continues.


I haven't had any issues as a female in tech, except perhaps that I wasn't introduced to it in my younger years (grade school) like the boys were. But once I discovered it and enrolled in a University, I was always treated well and even though I was only one of two or three women in my graduating class (of about forty) I was never singled out or made to feel inferior because I am female. I was invited to play board games and whatnot with the guys and always included if there was a study group.

Now in my career I have still been treated well, though some interviews did feel skewed. One in particular was an Indian man who was probably a fine guy, but I could tell he didn't like me from the start (which made my interviewing abilities plummet - I got nervous and bombed it because of the bad energy!) For both of the jobs I have accepted offers for I was offered more than I had originally asked, so there was no negotiation necessary, and at my current job I have been told the sky is the limit and I am open to move up and grow within the company as I please.

I found the "boys club" portion of your post interesting, as I have actually managed to work myself into that group (I've always had almost exclusively only male friends and never found myself to fit into the "girls club"). I played online games for many years and just became more comfortable with the banter of men, so once they realized I was into the same things I was part of the group. I think that's just all about your interests though, I've read elsewhere that it can be detrimental to force yourself to become "one of the guys" if that's just not you.

I'm not sure whether I've been lucky, or whether things are just getting better for women in tech, but I've had a good experience.


I have often felt like I have to work two or three times as hard as my male peers to get the same recognition for equal or better work. I have also heard several stories from women that also went to my school about things they've had happen to them in and out of school. It's very common.


I've been a programmer for 20 years or so. Took CompSci in uni, worked for a bunch of small & medium companies. I think I've been very blessed to have not experienced any sexism or harassment at work. I've worked with both great people... and jerks of both genders.

I've constantly felt underpaid, but never had any sign that this was based on my gender, but just working for companies that were cheap across the board.

I feel normal nerves for interviews, but not intimidated.

These days I work for myself.

The main drawback has been a lack of friendships with other women in the tech space. It would be nice to have friends who I can nerd out with about what I work on. My friends & husband are very non-technical, and I only know of 4 other female programmers in my city. I'm sure there are more... but it's rare to meet them.


Thank you for your story! πŸ‘
Currently, I work in a diverse JS team with 30% of women engineers, myself included, and I observe that the open and collaborative culture makes it easier to focus on work and be more productive.


Work related problems concern everyone (men and women). It really depends on what kind of organisations and what type of colleagues you are working with.

As I am over middle age, an ethnic minority woman. Working in IT, certainly I would always have younger colleagues, mostly are male.

In a healthy working environment, people are able to concentrate on their work and collaboration goes smoothly.


So far, my experience was good. Though, I have never faced gender dis equality.

I am from Bangladesh. It's a small country. In my country, Girls in BackEnd development are seem to be too less.

Sometime, I got to heard some stuff like: Girls can not be good at logical development, Girls can not teach tech stuff properly, Girls can not be good in the development of an architecture of any project.

Though, I don't feel bothered in those things. I would love to show them, yes, a women can do much better than a men!

And, it's really going on!


When you talk about equality! Female right, feminism! Why men's cant have menism!
If you yourself are counting your self as an external, how do you expect others to treat you one?

As male programmers, we don't get any additional superpowers, but as a female, God has gifted you multi-tasking brains, I would say men are at a disadvantage


Disclaimer: sorry for using the words male and female here. These sound very rude in my native language, but I don't know how to better describe sex-bound genders in English.

I'm a Brazilian male developer and I've never worked with a female developer, sadly. Though, I've been working with female testers, PMs and POs all my career (~10 years).

I really wish more women get into development. Some female testers I've worked with confess they would feel their job more rewarding if they were coding features instead of scripts, but never get the opportunity because their experience got limited or that the volume of male workers in this area makes it even more difficult to show she is worthy. Also, there is of course the prejudice factor. When a male manager have been working for too long only with men, they feel afraid of hiring a woman. Fear of she not keeping up, fear of one of his male employees being caught up harassing her, fear of the unknown, imaginations created by his prejudice.

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