The Brogrammer Problem: Keeping Geekery A Boys’ Club

“Men invented the internet! Because they were men! And manly! And they were geeks but they were male geeks! Because that’s what a geek is! A man!”

Okay, that’s not actually what the New York Times article says, not even close. But it certainly seems to imply it, and in the second paragraph it seems to imply that the MEN who invented the Internet are the only ones who are going to be involved in its future. Because, you know. They’re MEN.

What it really says is this:

MEN invented the Internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolized Mr. Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died. Nerds. Geeks. Give them their due. Without men, we would never know what our friends were doing five minutes ago.

But are these men trapped in the past even as they create the future?

This prompted Xeni Jardin to get a bit ranty on BoingBoing (includes cursing, including the F-bomber, so be warned), but not, I think, without justification.

Part of the reason is probably that we girl geeks hear this sort of thing all the time–casting doubt on our capabilities because of our gender, and denying us a seat at the geek table. Women in technology get hit especially hard.

And you can’t deny that the opening paragraph in that story indicates that nerds and geeks have to be men. I guess someone should have told that to all the people who mocked me using those terms when I was a kid, huh? “Oh, she’s a girl, not a geek.”

News flash: If you were gonna make a Venn diagram, “Female” and “Geek” would overlap quite a bit, thank you very much.

Apparently this sort of thing is becoming a problem in Silicon Valley lately, with the rise of the “brogrammer.”

Urban Dictionary has a couple of definitions of “bro” but here’s one: “An alpha male idiot. This is the derogatory sense of the word (common usage in the western US): white, 16-25 years old, inarticulate, belligerent, talks about nothing but chicks and beer, drives a jacked up truck that’s plastered with stickers, has rich dad that owns a dealership or construction business and constantly tells this to chicks at parties…”

A “bro” is not a good thing to be.

Protip: Most women actually find bros repulsive. And quite a few men do too.

(Incidentally, who doesn’t idolize Mr. Spock?)