Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Link: What is turning women off coding?

Following from are women in tech really in tech we have:

Some things to think about before you exhort everyone to code by Miriam Posner

Which points out the important cultural aspect of why it is that women are often not coders.

If you are not a woman in tech, and wonder why there are so few... this article is for you.

So is this recent article on the recent "brogramming" phenomenon: Brogramming: just one of the girls by addabirnir from Skillcrush

She points out that "brogramming" has its intentions in the right place: it is just trying to inject some appeal into coding... but is doing so in a blatantly misogynistic fashion. (eg "without brogramming, bros might just feel like...one of the girls") and thereby alienating the very few women who are trying to break into this industry.

The important take-home message from her is "you don’t need to alienate anyone to make yourself comfortable"

Also of very distinct interest is the NYT article about Wikipedia's serious gender imbalance, which also points the finger strongly at geek culture - which is extremely male, and can be very uncomfortable for a woman.

Speaking personally on this subject, it took me a good ten years before I figured out the rules for getting along in geek society. My feminine upbringing was with an entirely different, incompatible culture. I can well understand that the serious culture shock would be offputting to the point where many women might not even want to bother continuing.

Again, I'd recommend reading all these article to get a glimpse into why this is the case.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Performance review vs company policy

A post inspired by 1.00 FTE:

Makes the obvious point - any truly bad behaviour should be addressed specifically with the given person. Otherwise you end up with gargantuan employee policy documents filled with items best left to local law enforcement.

The question then becomes, where to draw the line? I also think we can apply this principle to the grey-areas - the smaller infractions that, if policies are created, become annoyances that the rest of the staff must deal with.

I've been here before... company-wide policies on email, facebook, draconian time-clocking... generally only instigated when some young intern has done something stupid, so everybody else has to suffer for his/her bad behaviour.

Sure, if somebody abuses your trust then punish them, or fire them, or put them on probation or whatever you need to do. but changing a policy for the entire company is overkill. Especially when it degrades the previously open and enjoyable culture that you spent so many years developing.

Don't let the actions of a single individual degrade the trust that you give to your other employees. Trust is hard-won and easily lost, for sure... but it's also an essential component of a happy workplace. People don't want to be treated like they are children - and will find it stressful to be constantly nannied when they are capable of looking after themselves.

With a nod to the fact that some people *do* need supervision, try to trust your employees to at least act like the adults they are. After all - people try to meet your expectations... whatever they are.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Do I look fat in this picture?

Blogger is doing a most unkind thing with profile pics - it scales to fit and does not respect the aspect ratio.

I've updated my profile pic to match the "acceptable" ratio on the full-size profile page (FYI everything is scaled to 140px wide and 180px tall). Previously it was stretching it width-ways and making me look like the fat-mirror in the hall of mirrors. :P

Of course my profile pic is a few years old now... but still close enough to life for people to recognise me, and I'd like it to stay that way.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Go the fuck home...

Jeff Atwood (of CodingHorror) recently left StackExchange after four years of really hard work. He gave his reasons in a farewell to StackExchange - explaining that he has realised that, as amazing as it is to work on a brilliant project... it's not worth missing out on your children.

To this I'll add a recent Ignite talk: Go the fuck home by Pam Selle

I totally agree.

Anything over a 40 hour week is really stupid. Not just for you, but also for the business you're working for. Many good books have pointed out that, not only do you not do your best work after five... but sometimes you can be actively sliding backwards (making more bugs that have to be cleaned up).

Of course the business won't say no. They think they're getting extra work from you for free... But remember that old deathbed adage about nobody feeling like they should have spent more time at the office.

Don't ever forget that any extra time at work is at the expense of your most precious commodity - your own life.

You only have one, and it's shorter than you think.

Get Real about how you're spending it.

You really don't win anything by giving it away for free to an employer that *maybe* might pat you on the back and give you a tiny pay-bump when your next review comes around.

yes, some companies are amazing, wonderful places to work for and you truly enjoy being there, that's great.... but this is the exception, not the rule, and even so - think about Jeff Atwood. StackExchange really is one of the really amazing places... but it still isn't Your Life (the only one you've got). So really think, then think again about your priorities here.

I know what it's like. Your boss tells you that it's critical to hit the next deadline and all but orders you to pull an allnighter? You do know they actually cant enforce that don't you?

Afraid you might lose your job? yes, you might... and then you might go find one where they treat you like a human, instead of a "business resource" to be pushed around at will.

Again, unless you're in a rare position, you probably aren't building the cure for cancer... and that deadline, while it might hit the company's bottom line today, probably won't cause people to actually die if you miss it... but what will happen is that you will continue to prop up a company that has very poor planning skills - and that is willing to exploit its workers at the expense of their time, health and sanity... and you're helping them do it?

Go the fuck home!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Link: Finding offshore ruby vendors that don't suck

Finding good "help" is always tough. When your help is located thousands of miles away in a country where english is a second language... that can be even tougher. How exactly do you filter out the dross and find the diamonds?

C42 have just put up a really interesting tutorial on how to identify offshore ruby on rails vendors that don't suck. I've never outsourced myself, but this looks like it would be a good starting point.