Code Babes image with red X strikethrough

Anti-Code Babes

I’ve been meaning to write about being a woman in the tech industry for a while now. Nothing like a stupid concept such as Code Babes (Gizmodo, Fast Company) to give you a little motivation to write something to counter the stupidity.

The basic concept of the site  is that programming lessons are so boring that they needed to be spiced up by having instructors-that-are-basically-strippers teach you how to code.  The site is rifled with suggestive phrasing (ex.”virgin” as opposed to “beginner” or “newbie”), overuse of “awesome”, and includes a chart where the more you learn, the less clothes is on the model.  People seem to be hopeful that it’s a joke – because it’s just that absurd.   If it is – it’s a pretty elaborate one as it actually goes out of its way to make instructional videos.

I saw their basic PHP video this morning (which is like Section 1 of any first chapter of an introductory coding book) where the woman instructor wasn’t as scantily clad as the other courses depicted.  Maybe by the time you get to PHP you need less skin-based motivation to learn to code? …Or maybe there should be NO CORRELATION as to why you would need scantily clad women to teach you coding!

Here’s how I learned to code – on my own while making basic websites using books and website tutorials followed by actually attending classes on it at a college.  While I don’t think I’m their target demographic, I’m pretty sure plenty of people have successfully learned to code in these ways without any issue.

These details aside, this entire concept reveals the negative aspects of tech culture, primarily as it relates to women. Women already have a challenging time getting involved in STEM-based subjects and if they get into the industry, they have to combat against sexism and the dynamics of an already male-dominated culture.   One of the best things about technology is that the outcome isn’t inherently tied to a gender.  A great idea is a great idea. The outcome of lines of code is determined on that it works and not necessarily how it’s written or who wrote it (though to be frank, there’s something beautiful about well-written and structured code…and you’re less likely to break something along the way).

One of the unfortunate truths (for now) about the industry is that the ideals of tech are marred by the fact that women don’t have equal participation or voice. Code Babes doesn’t help this picture at all. Not only are these women known by their bodies and by singular names, we don’t know their qualifications for teaching any programming, so their intelligence isn’t even a factor.  Apparently some of the quiz answers are completely wrong.  To apply to be a CodeBabe, you just need to give them your name, email address, and why you are interested. It’s surprising that they’re not asking for headshots.  To increase the likelihood that these women are just reading scripts, you can also submit to “Create a Lesson with the CodeBabes.”

At this point, is your brain hurting like mine?

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t linked to this Code Babes site – because I’d rather not.  However, if you want a site to help you learn how to code, I will link you to  Code Academy.

-cct