Brogrammer

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Brief Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against male programmers. Many are wonderful people that I have enjoyed hiring or working with. This article is more to speak to over-popularization of a ‘type’, that at times can make people who are from different walks of life feel a bit like the odd man out. 

For anyone not in a technical field, I’ll give a brief rundown. ‘Brogrammer’ is a controversial term in some ways, and some argue it doesn’t exist. But it is an archetype in Silicon Valley lore.

What is a brogrammer? This description made me laugh the most, from Urban Dictionary:

A programmer who breaks the usual expectations of quiet nerdiness and opts instead for the usual trappings of a frat-boy: popped collars, bad beer, and calling everybody “bro”. Despised by everyone, especially other programmers.

Do I believe ‘brogrammer’ culture exists, at least in some places? Yes, I do. I once worked with a startup where I very nearly lost an eye to a nerf style missile the DevOps team and software engineers were launching at each other. (Joke)

To me, the term brogrammer seems to be, at it’s essence, a hipster counter culture that rewards trendy nerdiness and technical skills. It has also (fairly or unfairly) been associated with the decline of female programmer numbers. The thinking is, feeling out of place female employees are phased (or phase themselves) out of these environments.

Companies suppose the average brogrammer is drawn to environments that attempt to replicate aspects of college for the sake of culture. You all are crammed together in a small space, and you do EVERYTHING together! You tour microbreweries, go to sports games, play with legos, and have beer pong at the corporate retreats. (Those are all literal examples from my exposure to startups.) There is probably a wii somewhere. (Are those still a thing? I don’t even know. Point is, video games!)

So it isn’t enough, culturally, to bond with a team over nerdiness. I am nerdy, sure, but in the non trendy non hipster way. I can throw down over Harry Potter trivia, and actually still subscribe to genuine oldschool printed out magazines. I listen to NPR and am not ‘on’ ‘kik.’ (I’m assuming that is an app, and not whatever recreational drug has eschewed Molly in fashionable circles.)

I think of myself much as a decades younger version of Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec. You show me a man bun, and in my head all I can hear is “Are the scissors in your house broken, son?” You tell me about how you make craft beer in your garage, and my eyes instantly glaze over. You know what kind of beer I like? Wine. Because I’m a girl? Maybe! And so what.

I don’t know what to make of a workplace where people willingly roll in to work at ten in the morning and stay at work, for fun, until ten at night. Um, I am in bed by then. I am a conventional, non trendy nerd. And as much as I love my colleagues, I need a little convention. I am militantly in the office by 7, and if you make me stay for optional-but-not-really 24/7 camaraderie, I lack some sort of clear cut boundary between work and fun that I apparently kind of need. I feel awkward getting beers with the CEO the first week of work, not totally plugged in to your ‘one of a kind culture.’ When a bunch of sleepy eyed boys roll into my workplace in flip flops and ironic overly tight t-shirts, (or god help me, v-necks) I feel five million years old. And very out of place.

And this culture can also be a reinforcement loop for homogenous hires. If you all share the same background, and the same work style, and the same interests, sure ‘culture fit’ seems locked down. As often this is the x factor startups claim as the special sauce  for their success, it is rarely challenged. (This is my experience in interviewing with them, and previously hiring for them.) It makes people from more diverse backgrounds seem possibly at odds with this cumulative culture of sameness.

So I am proudly a non-brogrammer. By virtue of my X chromosomes and 90 year olds preferences for workplace norms and formality. Is there a place for strange breeds such as myself? Who knows. Know this, however my tale ends it will be painstakingly recounted here at Lady Dev.

🙂

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