Gender neutral code? Srsly?

Admittedly being from Mars, my reaction to the this little piece is predictable… I won’t bore you with my witty repartee (yes, that’s a redundant phrase) involving Emma, my code and a kitchen. (Yes, I’m pretty much overdue for sensitivity training, and when my wife reads this, I’ll be back in the doghouse for a while.) I’m not saying that there isn’t some validity to stereotypes, but… [Our test build process takes an hour, so I’ve got time.]

Emma says: Men Write Code from Mars, Women Write More Helpful Code from Venus (

Following her logic, maybe bugs are like car accidents? Women have lower car insurance rates because even though they tend to have more accidents than men do, BUT men "do it right" and have much more damaging and expensive accidents… and therefore get spanked with larger insurance premiums. Nah, let’s not go there with software bugs. The diversity police already have too many excuses to visit my office.

It’s not just that Emma’s premise and mathematics are bogus, but… As a long-time subscriber to the "Pillars of Pretty Code" philosophy who focused more on maintainability when training my development staff (in previous lives when I was a dev manager), I’m offended by her stereotyping of male coders!! (Heh. It’s fun that it’s my turn to be "offended" by gendertyping.)

While I’m not a pretty code nazi (it feels odd to have to say that), transparency of the program logic is of paramount importance to maintainability. If you think your code is disposable and nobody will ever have to/want to maintain it, why aren’t you writing it in Visual Basic? But I digress…

Back to Emma. Her math is screwy. She says she can "guess" 70% to 80% of the time whether code is written by a man or a woman. That’s a sucker bet. Since far more than 80% of the code in the Known Universe™ is written by men… All she has to do is "guess" male every time to hit better than 80%!!! If she’s below 80%, then her analytical abilities are conceivably flawed. Doh!

Besides, some of the female coders that worked for me in previously lives wrote the most crazy, obfuscated, unselfdocumenting code I’d ever seen until I taught them better. (Let’s hope they retained the skill after I moved on.) I’d go ever further and point out that most of the "boys" did, too. Can’t we all just get along and agree that "people" write hard-to-maintain code until they’re taught better? Please?

And now I work with a female coder on my team these days (Bonnie) and she says that Emma’s full of [it]… So there! (Double heh.)