Women & Agile Development (revisit)

ACM Technews referenced this article from searchcio.com.au.

IT still trying to find what women want

The world is flat. Better go out and hire some women.

That seems to be the gist of a recent Gartner report on the gender gap in information technology

The article lists five gender-based traits CIOs should pay attention to when building IT staffs.

There’s a danger of drawing conclusions about individuals from differences in large samples. Just because men are statistically greater risk takers than women doesn’t mean I’m bolder than any particular woman. Or that she has better listening skills.

But at the level of an entire industry statistical differences are meaningful. Software would be better if we had collaborated and communicated better. Our products would be better if we had more empathy for customers and end users. Attracting qualified women into the field is a contribution to that end.

As the article suggests, the only appropriate way to do that in the context of a specific hiring decision is to include people skills as a requirement of the position, cast a wide net and hire the best candidate.

But you need to have a workplace and compensation package that is attractive to someone with people skills, technical chops and wants to give you their best at a sustainable pace.

To the argument that inviting women into a dysfunctional IT culture won’t make things better, I’d say that’s not my point. More women in IT is a hoped for result of humane workplaces — not a solution for creating them.

We have to work from within to make our companies better. In my software development team, our use of Scrum and XP has helped us do that. So far, my employer has been receptive.

I know that isn’t true everywhere. All I can say is those of us who have a choice sometimes have to make tough decisions about where we choose to collect our paycheck.

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About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.