Gender, programming, and the power of language

An interlude from the recent trend of hardcore Django action:

When I spoke with a female intern this summer, she recounted how, in 2006, the GNOME Project, a free and open source software project, received almost 200 Google Summer of Code applicants. All of them were male. When GNOME advertised an identical program for women, emphasizing opportunities for learning and mentorship instead of tough competition, they received more than 100 highly qualified female applicants for the three spots they were able to fund. What amazed me even more was when she suggested that our own company slogan — “We Help the World’s Best Developers Make Better Software” — might alienate prospective female candidates. That had never occurred to me. But according to our intern, in the world of computer science, “when you hear the phrase ‘the world’s best developers,’ you see a guy.”

From When computer programming was ‘women’s work’.