[Techtalk] Programming languages for women
jennyw at dangerousideas.com
Mon Mar 4 10:32:09 EST 2002
From: "Malin Blomqvist" <malin.blomqvist at home.se>
> I want to start by saying that I don't think woman-friendly
> is really the right thing to call it. Rather new-to-
> computer-and-abit-afraid-people-friendly. Or something :) I
Yes, that's probably a better way of putting it. I guess I say
woman-friendly because I think that women and girls are discouraged from
getting into tech. stuff, which is an additional barrier to overcome.
> I can't help but think of Perl. Perl can today be used for
And I was thinking that Perl might be the last language you want to show
beginners! ;-) Perl's cryptic syntax and free-form nature makes it easy to
start writing scripts; it also makes it hard to understand other people's
scripts, or even your own after a while (especially if they're complicated).
Of course, it is possible to write easy to understand Perl scripts, I just
don't think the language encourages it. I was thinking that if I were to
write a program that I wanted others to be able to participate in the
crafting of without much computer experience, Perl might not be such a good
Python is kind of nice because it does blocks by indentation. This does tend
to make it look more uniform and easier to read. It's syntax is also a bit
more friendly than Perl's. I don't have a lot of knowledge of Ruby, but Ruby
also seems to be pretty easy to read with little training.
The last part of my question was about programming communities. Maybe my
experiences haven't been typical, but I've found that there is a kind of
machismo that accompanies C and C++ programmers. They put down other
languages, even if it's clear that something is easier to implement in a
higher-level language. Of course, the C and C++ programmers I've worked with
have been Windows programmers, so 'nix C/C++ programmers might be totally
different. One of the managers, when I pointed a bug out to him, expressed
his anger by saying his engineer was sucking his $%^. Anyway, I was taken
aback, to say the least. Also, I remember holes punched in walls, temper
tantrums, and a lot of yelling.
PowerBuilder programmers I've worked had their own issues. I was in IT at
the time and not software engineering, so I had a bit of distance, but there
are things you just can't not notice. Some of the programmers couldn't even
tell you what "object-oriented" meant (well, they knew about "inheritance")
but they still had big egos and were very territorial (probably because they
didn't want anyone to examine their code). I hope this isn't common for PB
programmers, but we kept hiring new ones, and often they were more of the
same. There were also a few really excellent programmers, too, but they were
in the minority.
The SmallTalk programmers I've known have had a better understanding of OO
than other programmers I've worked with (probably for obvious reasons).
They've also tended to have lives. While there will always be macho
programmers, SmallTalkers seem a bit more laid back from my experience.
The Perl programmers I've worked with have either known their stuff or
really haven't. I've seem some pretty rotten Perl code. But for the most
part, I've found that, unless someone is trying to fit into a job that's too
big for them, Perl programmers are pretty cool. Haven't had contact with
many Python programmers and haven't met any Ruby programmers in person.
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