Original post here:
After reading Caitlyn Jones’ original post, I was curious to see in terms of neuroscience if males or females had a greater predisposition towards skill in programming.
The “aptitude” tests from the Making Programming Masculine article seemed to conclude that a “good” programmer is one who is anti-social, detached and logical, much like Ethan Levin from The Bug.
To sum up what I read it would seem that males are more logical, capable of problem solving, but are lacking when it comes to understanding and “showing” emotions. Females on the other hand are much better when it comes to emotions, thus giving them better communication skills and memory.
For more information I would suggest the article from which this pictures hails from:
So it does appear that males are better geared towards the “problems” of programming, determining how to make a program perform the required set of tasks, but this is not all that programming is. For example the programs in The Bug are designed to create a user interface. From the story we can see that Ethan has no idea how to make this user friendly, and has no idea what the users will do with the interface. And such is the problem with the stereotypical male programmer, due to his detachment from his customer, he cannot design an interface that the user will enjoy using.
It has been stated that Ethan Levin is a terrible programmer. I would argue that in spite of his binary attitude and his intent to be masculine, he really is a representation of the worst of both “worlds.” He is not logical like the traditional male, but is instead incredibly emotional, all while totally lacking empathy.
So what gender would make the best programmer? Either. I postulate that the behaviors I mentioned above were generated by millennia of social and evolutionary pressures. In prehistoric times men would journey out to retrieve food and encounter problems, thus increasing problem solving skills. When meeting other men, a show of strength was needed and men were taught that emotion was weakness, thus lowering males’ ability to articulate emotions. At the same time women would be left with the children with whom they had to communicate with and showing emotion created a bond of trust. This model of society would persist until modern times. However, this model is antediluvian and rather useless. There is no need for such strict gender roles in today’s society, and as such the differences between the brains of male and female will most likely blur. This being said it is possible for someone of either gender to develop all of the traits that a truly good programmer needs (In The Bug, the character of Roberta Walton clearly already has, as she caught the bug that had eluded so many).