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In war for talent, 'brogrammers' will be losers (cnn.com)
55 points by mlLK 1783 days ago | hide | past | web | 71 comments | favorite

> "Wanna bro down and crush some code?"

What? Who would say that, ever?

> San Francisco-based Klout

Oh. Carry on then.

"Brogrammers" are pretty hilarious though. I mean, aside from the utility of being a "warning, we're a company of homophobes and sexists" alert, I think that it started as a joke? Then, there were people that didn't realize it was a joke and started actually using it. I think that's pretty funny.

> San Francisco-based Klout

I guess it goes with the territory, Klout is a company built around false-ego, why not have employees suffer from the same ailment?

But the VIP Lounge at SFO!?

I have known programmers who talk exactly like that. It's a real thing. The startup craze has attracted a lot of people with a swollen sense of self worth. People who call themselves ninjas and what not.

This is one of the thing that attracts me to Clojure. Rich Hickey is the exact opposite of a brogrammer. He doesn't care about trends, or social mobile appification, he just cares about getting shit done.

You're attracted to a programming language because you think its author is cool?

Hm. Makes sense. COBOL, here I come!!

I'm attracted to the programming language because the author and I share the same values. I got into programming to create things. Not to have arguments about indentation or semicolons, or to pop my collar at this month's "conf".

Still, I wasn't entirely kidding. There's a lot of things about Mrs. Hopper that strongly resonate with me. Putting things into real perspective, being down to earth about everything. Not entirely unlike Hickey, really. Still, she made COBOL. I like Grace Hopper a lot better than I like COBOL. For me, this soft of serves as a counter argument to the idea that sharing values with a fellow creator would imply that I like that person's creations.

Note: I rather much agree with you, Hickey rocks, and the attitude he's broadcasting is very refreshing in today's code ninja heat.

> I think that it started as a joke? Then, there were people that didn't realize it was a joke and started actually using it.

Er, did you read the article? They acknowledge it started as a joke, and then go on to say:

"But the rise of the brogrammer joke and its ensuing backlash has some benefits: It helps talented women choose worthy employers, it gives a name and face to a problem that plagues the industry and it publicly shames some of the most sexist offenders."

Am I missing some inside joke? what exactly is a brogrammer? :(

This is a pretty good parody (demonstration?) of a brogrammer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi_AAqi0RZM

He pretty much sums up the entire team I worked with at my last job.

This is the first place I remember seeing it, still very much a bit of satire at the time:


I've never heard of it neither. Might be a new meme.

I think I'm reaching the end of my tolerance for the word "brogrammer"

I don't tolerate sexism, racism, or bigotry. Period. Whether it has a catchy name or not.

I have noticed that many of the attributes associated to "brogrammer" are attributes I associate with immature males.

Here's the thing: I do not believe that shaming immature males is going to make them more mature. In fact, I think it's going to drive the entire subculture underground and make it much, much worse. The stories we read about "brogrammers" in 10-years time will truly be horrific, instead of just frat-house idiocy.

I have no problem at all with making workplaces more women-friendly, or in having a zero-tolerance policy. I also expect employees to have natural personality flaws, like most humans. As long as I don't see it in the workplace I think accepting people for who they are is a much better life strategy than giving them labels and sticking them in little boxes for us to assault en masse. And don't even get me started in the "business of outrage" where a new syndrome is kicked up and dozens of writers generate millions of pageviews all clamoring over each other to tell us how bad it is.

To put this in a direct business context, I desperately want diversity in tech teams. That's diversity in thinking, not in external attributes. That means the more eccentric the wordviews of those present, as long as they can get along? It's better for everybody. I'd take violent anarchists, Buddhists, and Nazis in a team if I could make it work. Just keep the bad behavior offsite. I do not want to live in your homogenized world.

> I'd take violent anarchists, Buddhists, and Nazis in a team if I could make it work. Just keep the bad behavior offsite.

If you'd do that, good luck keeping your bad behaviour of knowingly hiring Nazis off-site.

Or "violent <anything>". What level of violence are we talking about btw, that this employee that you hired for your team actually bombs things outside the workplace, or that s/he merely stabs or beats up people outside the workplace?

Or do you mean as long as they're able to keep the bad behaviour outside the workplace well enough so you can plausibly claim you couldn't have known about it when you hired them.

> I do not want to live in your homogenized world.

LOL tell that to the Nazis you'd have no problems hiring despite their "natural personality flaws"!

I'd take violent anarchists, Buddhists, and Nazis in a team if I could make it work.

Maybe it wouldn't work on a technology team, but it's an excellent set up for a "...walk into a bar" joke.

I'm not sure we have a Buddhist (maybe some Indian guys, not sure, we don't discuss religion much, but they don't eat meat), but violent anarchists and almost-evil eastern bloc caricatures seem to be represented fairly well where I work.

The do get shit done, though.

The guy sitting next to me is an aspiring Buddhist, and I'm a Russian immigrant who is tinkering with a USB missile system in his spare time so I can shoot my coworkers when they commit bugs into the repo.

I'll have to investigate the other coworker for any swastika tattoos. He does speak some German...

Do you have any evidence that these diversity teams actually make more money?

I mean it is a nice political correct speech speech, but feelings have no place in business (except, possibly, to woe over employees or customers). Businesses exists to make money.

Saying businesses exist to make money is like saying humans exist to eat.

Yes: basically any study on the effects of more diverse work teams or leadership has come up with the same result: diversity is good for business, better for the bottom line, results in better products, and so forth.

Have a gander: http://j.mp/J3RwfG

When I see "brogrammer" used I have to fight to not flip the bozo bit for that person.

It's a bizarre reversal of high school, where people want to be mad at "bros" for invading the sanctity of the programming world. It's now cool to be un-cool.

Creating groups to direct your ire towards for the imagined problems of the tech industry isn't going to help anyone. Solving problems is about being inclusive, not exclusive.

On a similar note the lynch mob mentality when somebody steps over the line just means that everyone is going to be scared of going anywhere near that line. In the long term just this trends towards a boring politically correct future.

the imagined problems of the tech industry

Are you really making the case that there aren't any real problems in the tech industry? That's a pretty extreme stance.

Clearly not. It's just easier for journalists to write some fluffy piece about programming culture than it is to write anything profound involving numbers of whatever.

> "Companies that are inclusive, like Facebook, have an advantage in recruiting talents, says Gina Trapani"

Didn't the whole brogrammer thing start at Facebook? (hint: yes).

Ooops. I hit down vote instead of up vote by accident. How do I undo it?

You can't. Welcome to the post-500 club.

Really? You can't undo votes only after you pass 500? What's the logic in that?

You can't undo votes period, as far as I know (please correct me if I'm wrong).

500 karma is when you get the ability to down-vote.

I upvoted the parent for you. It all evens out.

Thus begins the HackerNews vote blackmarket.

That's one small way brogrammer culture is actually useful. It's a red flag for women...

The problem with the brogrammer caricature, is that it exaggerates a few overt features of regular geek culture in a way that overshadows underlying pathologies in programming shops.

There are forms of intolerance and aggression that have nothing to do with homophobia or sexism (or any other readily vilifying -ism) but which are still capable of interfering with vital flows of information. Brogrammers are nothing more than guys who program and are still operating with much of the same belief structure they had in high school. They've failed to "make their beliefs pay rent" with ideas like "hot chicks in bikinis make the world a better place," "boys will be boys," and the idea that offensive language "keeps it real."

However there's plenty of that sort of failure to go around in the mainstream of programmer culture at large, in groups that look nothing like brogrammers -- in ways that even affect technical decisions.


So are you saying that hot girls don't make the world a better place? As in you either wouldn't care or that you would prefer having less hot women?

As for the entire objectifying thing -- when I see something beautiful, being a statue, a painting or, yes, a girl -- it makes my day better. And what is wrong with enjoying the beautiful things in life? It would be awfully dull if we were to go through life as if it was a Catholic sunday school.

Anyway there is nothing wrong with beautiful girls, there is nothing wrong with smart girls and there is nothing that prevent a girl from being both.

So are you saying that hot girls don't make the world a better place?

They do indeed make the world a better place in some way. That doesn't mean that they make the workplace a better place.

>> However there's plenty of that sort of failure to go around in the mainstream of programmer culture at large, in groups that look nothing like brogrammers -- in ways that even affect technical decisions.

All of these articles that discuss brogramming are helping to shed light on the issues of sexism in the programming community. However, too often they read as though this is a new problem. The programmer stereotype used to be that we didn't know how to interact with women. Now we have a programmers objectifying women. I agree with you, the issue is larger than brogramming.

I suspect that the issue could be helped by having more female programmers. It's much more difficult to be bigoted (be it gender, sexuality, culture, etc) toward a group when you work with and respect a member of that group. Of course, it'll be difficult to get more women involved in programming given the current culture.

  Tech start-ups founded by women are few and far between,
  but they're highly attractive to female and male
  candidates who don't want to join a boys' club.
My best experiences have been working with, or for, women.

I stumbled on these companies purely accidentally tho. I wish there was a list of companies that have a better-than-SV-average rate of women.

That's a list that I would like to see, as well. If there's a strong interest, I would be willing to collaborate on creating and maintaining one.

You'd be doing God's work!

Companies with better-balanced workforces deserve to be recognized.

I'm an atheist, so that's strange praise, but whatever.

If anyone's serious about setting something up, my contact info is in my profile.

My best experience by far was on an all-male team - not "bros" in any way I saw, just the best guys for the job. If you ever make such a list, see if you can apply some statistics and get some evidence rather than our own anecdotes.

Do brogrammers really exist, or at least exist in any number great enough to worry? I've been to many software engineering meetups and whatnot and I have yet to meet anyone I would call a brogrammer. This stereotype feels more like a joke that has taken on a life of its own and the media likes to write about it like it is a legitimate widespread phenomenon, kind of like they like to portray climate change deniers as an equally large contingent within the scientific community as those scientists who support climate change theories based on human impact.

> "Do brogrammers really exist"

My take was that the 'brogrammer' joke was supposed to be a humorous way to conflate sexist geek boys-club culture with sexist frat boys-club culture. Relying on the stereotypical geek instinctive dislike of stereotypical bros to make them feel shame for being sexist jerks.

In that sense, 'brogrammers' don't really exist, but the undesirable behaviors absolutely do and absolutely are a problem.

I think the problem is that the joke was really immature and stirred up a lot of the "us vs them" social nonsense that isn't true and wasn't really necessary.

Plenty of geeks work out and do physical activities. Plenty of geeks were in fraternities. Plenty of geeks enjoy the socializing that gets lampooned as stereotypical frat-boy-stuff. And they may well not be 'brogrammers' in the sense of being discriminatory dicks - but we're on our way to making them an out-group and excusing stereotype reinforcement.

From the article: "Tech start-ups founded by women are few and far between, but they're highly attractive to female and male candidates who don't want to join a boys' club."

I could see how this could be true for female candidates (since gender is a focal point for them in a male-dominated industry), but as I guy I'm not sure the CEO's gender is going to make their company a "highly attractive" workplace to me - I'd be a lot more concerned about their track record and experience.

Gender-balanced groups are more interesting and more comfortable than groups which are dominated by a single gender. I would certainly consider the presence of women in technical management positions to be a big point in a potential employer's favor, since it is evidence that they have managed to overcome the usual boyzone dynamics.

It's sad to read the comments on the article and here on HN from people who don't get it. It's not just about the brogrammer joke or bro stereotype. Gina is embracing it to highlight the problems we have with gender discrimination in the industry.

My feeling is that much of it is unintentional from men who haven't thought very deeply about the impact their actions have on women. The negative comments highlight the cognitive dissonance people go through when they're presented with facts that conflict with their beliefs or actions.

The article makes no sense: You may as well say "Racist cultures are useful because they show us who's racist." If the racism isn't there, neither are the racists*.

I won't work with 'brogrammers' not because of gender issues, but because their general attitude and ego is just plain sucky to be around all day.

Are there really that many of these "brogrammer" start ups around? I find it hard to believe that they plague the culture as much as some articles have you believe. At least, it's nothing compared to actual college, where bros own the social scene and are extraordinarily exclusive towards others (other males that is).

I do not live in Silicon valley, and have not actually seen of these "brogrammer" startups, but I imagine it more as a fun joke than a serious, misogynistic club.

I do live in Silicon Valley and they most definitely do exist. More importantly though is that the scene in Silicon Valley is dominated by a single type of person - male programmers. Part of this culture is bro-tastic. Part of it is geeky. Most of it is some weird munging of the two where two guys might be comparing their ePeen, their ninja-hacking skills or their lift reps. Overall it is offputting to diversity which is the real problem.

Nobody is turning down skilled engineers because they don't shotgun a beer at the interview.

All of this outrage over a joke is ridiculous. Yes, some people have made some stupid flyers (saying girls are going to serve you beer as you code? dumb) but most of the time it's just a joke poking fun at the stereotype that programmers are lame awkward nerds.

It's also a joke which subtly reinforces the stereotype that programmers are male.

It's somewhat ironic then that the brogrammer term started a Facebook (though I believe, and hope, it was in jest)

I don't know whether he invented the term, but Nick Schrock (schrockn) started the popular "Brogrammer" page on Facebook[1] and is a prominent engineer there[2].

  [1] http://www.facebook.com/getwiththebrogram (defunct)
  [2] http://www.facebook.com/Engineering/posts/128074377271161

A thread on Quora[1] with comments from Nick suggests the term didn't originate with him. It's clear he is responsible for popularizing the term.

  [1] http://www.quora.com/Facebook-Engineering/Who-are-the-people-behind-the-Brogramming-page-on-Facebook/answer/Don-Otvos/comment/416437

The setting of the lead photo looks not much different than the sweatshops from days of yore.

"Male software engineers don't actually pop their collars, wear sunglasses and lift weights while writing code and share hot tubs with bikini-clad women"

Says who?

More words spilled over an invented trend.

Yup, CNN's having a conversation with itself.

Maybe next week they'll do a daring expose on hipsters, or those crazy flapper ladies. What next, women's suffrage?

Thank you.

It is getting really frustrating that people took the joke (that really wasn't ever that funny) and took it for truth.


I've seen a sudden flurry of articles on the "broprogrammer" meme. I'm starting to wonder if this is a carefully choreographed hoax that the MSM has fallen for.

You could speculate meaninglessly, or, you could actually try to find out the answer to your question.

In the case of Tasneem Raja, she was actually in Matt Van Horn's talk at SxSW, and was one of the folks pissed off enough to walk out of his talk (and explicitly says as much here: http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/04/silicon-valley-brog... ).

Tasneem also talked with several of the badass developer folk who build FOSS tools for the news world at SxSW, who encouraged her to write about the phenomenon.

From that point, having been published in Mother Jones and gotten a good deal of traffic, other news outlets are going to pick up and start commenting on it.

This isn't a conspiracy, this is traction.

Matt Van Horn != a trend. How difficult is that to understand? When everyone has to use the same obnoxious prat to extrapolate into some wider trend, maybe there isn't a wider trend.

A few years back I had a female coworker who flirted with me endlessly. I stopped staying in the office late because she would always do the same.

"New trend -- shegrammers and the troubles they cause".


Give me a break.

I'm not sure you need me to give you a break if you're missing the trend here :)

If you read the mother jones piece, you'll notice that Matt Van Horn isn't the only data point cited. Just the exemplar that set the author off on writing about the subject. Just in the past 6 months there have been a number of instances of casual and blasé instances of chauvinism and/or sexism and then efforts to downplay the reaction.

Read the pieces and you'll see!

Here’s your break, huggyface: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_of_incidents

(that’s maybe 5%, tops, of actual incidents that happen)

Wow, that's at least multiple items per month across the millions of people in tech.

Worse, it takes the expression of subjective personal opinion and turns even that into some sort of offensive assault. That site offends me as a man, thus I will add it to my masculism site.

The media are the hoaxsters, as they are with most "trend" type stories. Find one example of something (rainbow parties, crazy diet "fads", etc) and you have the diversity that is natural with billions of people. Cast that as a trend, however, and suddenly it's something that everyone needs to be aware of and concerned with.

This isn't a trend of fluff pieces, and i think it's rather demeaning to attempt to dismiss it as such. Even if there aren't any folks that actually exemplify the brogrammer, developers are being catered to, regardless of how tongue in cheek, as brogrammers.

And that's pernicious for a whole pile of reasons.

This article is fluff, and this is a made-up controversy. Worse things have been said during presentations, and more objectifying advertisements have aired. I'm sure Gina boycotts GoDaddy because, based on their advertising campaigns that contain scantily-clad women, they must be a company full of misogynists.

This article would have had a larger impact had she instead focused on what DOES make a tech team work well; if she had focused on the qualities that make a tech team thrive, and how "brogrammer" culture cuts into that advantage. By writing a piece on a made-up controversy, she just loses credibility.

Calling yourself a brogrammer is the geek equivalent of yelling 'hey baby' out the car window. These people aren't getting any girls, for obvious reasons.

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