Grace Hopper Celebration: No Brogrammers Allowed at the Yahoo! Breakfast

Yahoo! had an invitational breakfast that started at 7 am Thursday Morning. I signed up originally to assist their registration desk, knowing that I would need the opportunity to get off my feet. However, it turned out I was the only one there at the crack of 7 to man the Backend/Frontend Engineer table so I was conscripted.

It gave me an opportunity to really talk one-on-one to these girls without worrying about getting them to draw some code structure. Instead of talking about the joys of Backend or End-to-End programming, they really were interested in my experience surviving an acquisition as well as project opportunities within Yahoo!

Then, as I was rambling on about all of that, a girl comes up. “I heard you have the best job in the world.” I smile at her and say, “Pat must have told you that. She’s been telling everyone that.” I explain that I work in Yahoo! Sports and that I originally came from a Startup, hence the talk of acquisitions.

It turns out one of her first internships was with a Startup. She was also the only girl on the team. And she asked me how I handled it.

I told her that, for the most part, I didn’t have to handle it. Not really. The guys I work with didn’t just treat me like one of the guys, they respected my work. They weren’t “Bros.” They were professionals first who happen to love sports. Apparently, that caught her attention. She liked sports, sure. But she ran into the issue of ‘Brogramming.’

It’s more than an internet meme now. It’s guys being ‘Bros.’ Beer. Code. Popped collars. Pretty much the sort of culture you would expect if the OC happened in a web app suite. There would be meetings and they would make crude jokes. On the way out, they would come up to her saying, “I’m so sorry if I offended you,” after she didn’t show any sign of being offended.

Brogramming is a cliché that makes misogyny popular by implying that it’s ironic or emphasizing a fraternity atmosphere. It supposedly separates the men from the boys, but what it really does is separate the men from the women.

I told her that the one place this did not happen was Yahoo! Sports. Male dominated? Yes. That comes with the content. Women don’t seem to apply to work in Sports Media Engineering. It’s niche. And while I’ve run into Brogramming incidents, that is not the culture. They value my opinion on usability and social integration as well as my more technical mindset. The guys in Yahoo! Fantasy were inclusive and supportive in my want to grow my skill set if it meant they would have one more well qualified Engineer.

I honestly think it struck a chord and I hope to see her in Sunnyvale soon. There’s nothing too awful about being the only female backend engineer in Sports, but more is always better.

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