Why Women Shouldn’t Code
francine hardaway


I speak for me here but I do work for Intel and on the heels of a corporate initiative announcement I actually don’t completely agree with (http://fortune.com/2015/01/12/intel-diversity/).

My alma mater, Harvey Mudd College, graduated a majority female class of engineers in 2014 (https://www.hmc.edu/about-hmc/2014/05/20/harvey-mudd-graduates-landmark-class/). While particular focus areas require more or less coding, I can assure you that thost graduates learned to code.

While at CES2015 in the Intel booth, you may have noticed a few rockstar projects. The 3D-printed dresses, the ear buds with integrated optical heart rate sensor, the demo of The Button during the keynote… all executed by some of my female colleagues (Karli, Indira, and Nadine). There was some coding going on there.

As I type this I’m sitting in Cambridge, Massachusetts, having just visited with Nadya Peek (http://infosyncratic.nl/ )in the Bits and Atoms lab. If you like building and making things you would find yourself salivating at her lab resources and you would be impressed with her hardware and software projects, and you’d be sad when you had to leave. Coding? A little bit…

I’ve attended some robot competitions (FIRST, Vex), and I’ve attended an LVBots meetup or two and there’s one thing I’ve noticed at these… Women. Coding. Crazy? No. They like robots.

Coding is rarely the goal, unless maybe you’re into pure algorithms or OS dev or compiler writing or other such things (even then, some people love that stuff and I thank them for it). Coding is much more often a means to an end, whether it’s development of an application to solve a problem, a tool to control a sewing machine or a cnc router, a language processor to parse communications and derive mood and state, a musical instrument controller to create and edit music… the list goes on.

Let us not forget, women made up the majority of the programmer population for a while… http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/06/345799830/the-forgotten-female-programmers-who-created-modern-tech

Knowing how to code or learning to do so does not relegate you to a dark room in the basement of the parental home, it enables you to execute your desires and at the very least it allows you to sit at the table and understand the conversation. Even just a little might be just enough. Knowing what it means to give instructions to a machine is not too far off from learning about finance and accounting, communications, strategy, business and life in general. In an agrarian economy you learn to farm whether you’re a farmer or not, because that represents an understanding of how the world works. Today we are a technological society, whether you plan on twiddling bits or running companies, knowing something about how the world works— being informed and aware— is as important and matters just as much no matter what you want to do or how you identify yourself.

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