Do Agile principles demand we confront the shortage of women developers?

These are notes from my presentation at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) #45.

I’ll link to my full paper when it is available and to subsequent posts as I publish them.

Agile values, product innovation and the shortage of women software developers Part 4 of 7


(23) Agile Software Development

Now let’s incorporate Agile Software Development into this. What unites the different agile methodologies is a shared set of values and a shared cause to change the way software is made and delivered to customers. These values are declared in twelve principles and summarized in a four line manifesto…

(24) High level principles

We value: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Working software over comprehensive documentation. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Responding to change over following a plan.

(25) Agile values are the foundation of agile practice

“These values are not just something the creators of the Agile Manifesto intended to give lip service to and then forget. They are working values. Each individual agile methodology approaches these values in a slightly different way, but all of these methodologies have specific processes and practices that foster one or more of these values.” – Jeff Sutherland

(26) Agile values as a standard of conduct

Agile principles and the ongoing discussion of them form the basis for a normative standard of conduct informing how practitioners should behave towards our work, our peers, our employers, our customers and our end users. They challenge practitioners not to a narrow definition of success on a task but to craft with quality, to collaborate in high trust, to cede authority to individual contributors, and to work with the customer’s interests in mind, to make predictable progress at a sustainable pace, and to make problems and opportunities visible.

(27) Agile values as a call for beneficial change

Agile principles urge us to inspect our actions, confront impediments, and drive towards beneficial change. And the means to this is, as Alistair Cockburn suggests, we “…value agile principles over the agile practices[38] Or as Bob Martin says, Not simply to execute but to take care.”

(28) What Agile principles demand we confront this problem?

So if Agile practitioners recognize the shortage of women in our shops is an impediment to value delivery – that it is an obstacle to our mission as agilists – then we will work to remove this impediment. The question becomes “What Agile principles demand we confront this problem?” In the interests of time I’ll highlight two hostile cultures described in the literature and the agile values that challenge them.


Next: Antidote to hostile workplaces and the alpha geek…

Previous: Can women devs help software better address the needs of women end users?

All slides published to date.

There is abundant research on the problems women face in our field. I would love researchers to jump in on whether Agile principles and Agile practioners can really make a difference.

I’d also love any suggestions of organizations, institutions and individuals I might reach out to for more information, collaboration, or to take up the cause.

Please comment on my proposal to Agile 2012.

The full citation list for my paper.

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  1. Pingback: Can women devs help software better address the needs of women end users? | Ken H. Judy

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