Does Looking Like a Developer Lead to Career Opportunities?

In an interesting post at Slate.com, programmer Philip Guo says that being Asian and male has helped him in his career and that he’s seen the opposite to be true for those who don’t fit the stereotypical image of a programmer. Even though Guo was a complete novice when he started in the computer science program at MIT, people expected that he knew what he was talking about because of his race and gender. That led to benefits in both his education and his career. He writes:

Instead of facing implicit bias or stereotype threat, I had the privilege of implicit endorsement. For instance, whenever I attended technical meetings, people would assume that I knew what I was doing (regardless of whether I did or not) and treat me accordingly. If I stared at someone in silence and nodded as they were talking, they would assume that I understood, not that I was clueless. Nobody ever talked down to me, and I always got the benefit of the doubt in technical settings.

Guo ends with a call to encourage those who show an interest in programming but don’t fit into expectations of what a programmer looks like. He concludes, “I hope to live in a future where people who already have the interest to pursue CS or programming don’t self-select themselves out of the field. I want those people to experience what I was privileged enough to have gotten in college and beyond: unimpeded opportunities to develop expertise in something that they find beautiful, practical, and fulfilling.”

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