Wishful Coding

Didn't you ever wish your computer understood you?

Learning F# as a lesson in feminism

Some of my Hacker School friends tweet a lot about feminism, and sometimes I fail to see why things like this are such a big deal.

But since I started learning F#, it suddenly makes sense. Here’s why: F# is default Windows.

You can use F# on Mac or Linux, but at every step along the way you see screenshots, commands, programs and people that implicitly asume you’re using Visual Studio. You can ask questions in ##fsharp on Freenode, but you’ll need to explain you’re using Mono every single time. You can compile cross-platform programs, but with dll and exe extensions.

With this experience, I started looking at some other things.

Why do I use Linux anyway? Is it superior to Windows? In some ways, but also worse in other ways. The real reason is that outside of the .NET community, everything is thoroughly default Linux. Half of the tools and libraries I use will just not work. On some bigger projects, Windows support might be added as an afterthought, possibly through Cygwin.

Why do I work in English? I’m a Dutch guy. Same answer. Programming is default English, and only the biggest of the biggest projects have multilingual documentation and community. It would be incredibly frustrating to program without all the English resources.

Realising I fit the default programmer pretty accurately, and experiencing the annoyances of not being the default, it starts to be really easy to see why it might be frustrating to be an afterthought as a woman.

If you talk about a random guy on the internet, your probably talk about him like this. Read that again, then install this extension

I just assumed you where using Chrome implicitly. How rude. If you’re not, you can install it with apt-get install chromium.

Free beer meetups seem like a great idea at first, but why not make it free drinks instead? Let me sip my lemonade while you all get drunk.

I hope this post will get you thinking about how to alienate less people of any kind. It’s not about Linux or about woman, it’s about being aware of your assumptions. You can’t always cater to everyone, but you can at least acknowledge the people you’re not catering to.

Pepijn de Vos