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This doesn't really surprise me that much:

For instance, the IT guy—and they're about three times more likely to be men than women—doesn't necessarily have a computer-science degree. About a third come to IT with degrees in business, social sciences or other nontechnical fields. More than 40% of computer support specialists and a third of computer systems administrators don't have a college degree at all.
My masters degree (and if Ph.Ds are called doctors, why aren't MSs called "master"?) is in a traditional CS field, but my bachelors is on interdisciplinary degree, a mix of political science and computer science.  Most of the programmers I have worked with have non-technical degrees: music, philosophy, business, english.  Programming is an inherently creative endeavour: you have a problem or a need and you must come up with a solution using limited tools and your own imagination.  I am completely unsurprised that creative people of all backgrounds would be attracted to it.

This all explains, I think, why companies that treat programmers as if they worked on an assembly line.  Programming is a craft, not an endlessly repeatable process.  Treating it as if it was just a series of easily repeatable steps does nothing but remove the motivation of the people doing the work.  It may not be efficient in the business school sense, but it is true nonetheless: if you want quality code, treat your coders as respected craftsmen.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One of the Orignal Major Sources for Programmers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    petral

    was musicians. I was an income earning amateur musician before going into programming. I recall seeing of some tech companies that hired only one-time professional musicians. Of course it's possible that the owner was one and just wanted compatible personalities.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 04:54:00 PM PDT

  •  Doesn't surprise me either. Like Gooserock said, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rbird, petral

    once upon a time professional musicians were sought out for not only computer programming, but computer science in general.  Music is really mathematic at its base.

    I'm a computer programmer as well.  I find it strange to hear that computer programming is male dominated.  In all the jobs that I've had, women out numbered men in actual programming positions.  Like so many others, my bachelor's degree is in architecture with a minor in history.

    I went with my first love in college and had worked in historic preservation for a number of years until the reality of needing to pay bills finally sunk in.  I then went back to school and got an associate's of applied science in computer programming.  While architecture was my first love, programming was a close second.

    I was introduced to computers by the age of 9 by my parents, in the early 70's.  Along with that, dad started teaching me the basics of electronics.  He built a pretty sizable rack of ham radio equipment - including laying tape out on a copper board, exacto knifing out the circuit and acid bathing it.  Then drilling holes for resistors, capacitors, and other parts and then soldering it all together and making it work.

    When we came back to the US (lived in Italy for 3.5 years and Japan 3.5 years prior to that) my parents started going back to school.  Mom had a BS in Comp Sci with one class short of a triple major with Mathematics and Accounting.  Dad has 3-5 Associate degrees, comp sci, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering.  They finished up as I finished up high school.  I used to type their papers for them on an electric typewriter, until they got a trash80 and I thought I went to heaven!  I was among the first 40 in my high school to take basic computer programming in the early 80's.

    I come by my geekiness honestly!!!!  Yes, programming is an art and we're all just as quirky as the 'art' artists.  If you treat us that way, you'll get some absolutely wonderful software.  Make us an assembly line, that's what you're going to get.

  •  I sometimes think that's the problem. (0+ / 0-)
    Programming is a craft, not an endlessly repeatable process.
    Looking at the generally crappy state of a lot of software these days, I'd wish it was like an engineering discipline more than anything else.

    You know, more emphasis on design, suitability to need, and extensive safety and reliability testing. Where's the NHTSA or Underwriters' Laboratories for software?

    The Internet mindset of "it's good enough, let's throw it out to the customer and let them be the guinea pigs" does no one any favors.

    "If you are still playing for Team Republican and want to have any honor whatsoever, you need to leave the Republican Party now, apologize to America, and work to remove it from our political system." - Brad DeLong

    by radabush on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 06:00:32 PM PDT

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      "The Internet mindset of "it's good enough, let's throw it out to the customer and let them be the guinea pigs" does no one any favors."

      That's the corporate way of doing it.  If it were up to us programmers, we'd test the living hell out of whatever it is we're programming before we let some yahoo have a crack at it.

      The biggest problem is that 'business' sees programmers as an expense, but a necessary one, not as someone that is making something that will make their lives easier and richer (monetarily richer) through efficient design.  One of the problems that companies are starting to run into is that those that designed their systems 30/40 years ago are retiring and those that worked with them are also starting to retire.  Now you've got people trying to maintain systems where the developer has no first hand knowledge of "why" some things were done the way that they were.  Nor do they have access to a person that knew the person that did the initial development.

      Then you have the 'net type programmers - those that know just enough to be very, very dangerous because they took a single class on programming and wrote a couple of 'hello world' pgms.  Then thinking that they know what they're doing.

      You couldn't pay me enough to work on Microsoft Word program, there's so much crap in it now.... it's dangerous to try to remove something now.  The same can be said for many other legacy systems - but, they NEED people that can decipher the stuff and SOON.

      •  Software Engineering (0+ / 0-)
        That's the corporate way of doing it.  If it were up to us programmers, we'd test the living hell out of whatever it is we're programming before we let some yahoo have a crack at it.
        You'd think that (and it might be true in some cases), but my experiences tend to be that developers are far more interested in what's new, bright and shiny rather than wanting to deal with such mundane things as reliability, ease of maintenance, etc.

        Yes, I'm biased - in a previous life I worked as a systems engineer (translation: the poor schlub who had to go to customer sites and make the product actually do what the vendor claims it can) for a network equipment reseller. You know things are bad when customers ask you "Did the people who came up with this actually try to use this in the real world?" on an all-too-frequent basis.

        Then you have the 'net type programmers - those that know just enough to be very, very dangerous because they took a single class on programming and wrote a couple of 'hello world' pgms.  Then thinking that they know what they're doing.
        Which, as I get older, makes me more and more apt to support requiring professional certification and licensing for software developers - at least for anything man-rated (software so important and critical that lives may depend on it) or enterprise-rated (software critical to the uninterrupted operation of an enterprise). We require it for cars, airplanes, power plants, and other potentially dangerous items - why not software?

        "If you are still playing for Team Republican and want to have any honor whatsoever, you need to leave the Republican Party now, apologize to America, and work to remove it from our political system." - Brad DeLong

        by radabush on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 07:54:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess, I'm more 'old' school than I thought. (0+ / 0-)

          Your first paragraph relates to what I call 'net type programmers, not the 'real' programmers and most definitely not management or BA's.  As I said in my first post, I've been around programming for more than 30 years now and more than 15 professionally.

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