Getting Code In Touch With Its Feminine Side

The Wall Street Journal reports that a developer poobah in Silicon Valley who happens to be a woman thinks that coding best practices are feminine by nature:

Emma McGrattan, the senior vice-president of engineering for computer-database company Ingres–and one of Silicon Valley’s highest-ranking female programmers–insists that men and women write code differently. Women are more touchy-feely and considerate of those who will use the code later, she says. They’ll intersperse their code–those strings of instructions that result in nifty applications and programs–with helpful comments and directions, explaining why they wrote the lines the way they did and exactly how they did it.

Men, on the other hand:

Men, on the other hand, have no such pretenses. Often, “they try to show how clever they are by writing very cryptic code,” she tells the Business Technology Blog. “They try to obfuscate things in the code,” and don’t leave clear directions for people using it later. McGrattan boasts that 70% to 80% of the time, she can look at a chunk of computer code and tell if it was written by a man or a woman.

The solution is best practices, filtered through the lens of femininity:

In an effort to make Ingres’s computer code more user-friendly and gender-neutral, McGrattan helped institute new coding standards at the company. They require programmers to include a detailed set of comments before each block of code explaining what the piece of code does and why; developers also must supply a detailed history of any changes they have made to the code. The rules apply to both Ingres employees and members of the open-source community who contribute code to Ingres’s products.

Also, Ingres has abandoned programming languages that use he as the pronoun placeholder in method calls (no more he.Close() for them).

Heavens to murgatroid, don’t we have enough problems getting developers male and female to not be stupid without having to turn adoption of best practices as some front in the gender war?

(Link seen on Michael Williams – Master of None.)

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