‘Brogrammers,’ ‘hogrammers,’ and the gender gap

By Dennis Carter, Editor
June 6th, 2014

Only two in 10 computer programmers are women, according to federal statistics.

A small California college has bolstered women’s representation in computer sciences, but tech industry bias persists

[Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in 2012. At the time, a large number of readers agreed that the gender gap existed. We thought the story worth a re-post to ask you if you thought any and/or enough progress has been made in closing this gender gap. Is this even still a problem? Weigh in through comments, email me at, or find me @eSN_Meris on Twitter.]

The rise of the brash, stylish, computer-geek-turned-cool-guy known simply as a “brogrammer” among popular technology startups threatens to further alienate women from enrolling in computer science courses, where for years they have been vastly underrepresented, higher-education officials said.

Mainstreaming of the label “brogrammer”—a combination of bro and programmer—began among technology companies appealing to recent college graduates who are experts at writing computer code. It has since seeped into higher education, where students said it has reinforced the archetype of a tech-savvy student ready for post-graduation life in the technology industry: A man.

“Some people say brogrammer is not sexist, because women can be programmers, too. They’re just called hogrammers,” said Xanda Schofield, a junior computer sciences major at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., where the college’s president has pushed for more women in technology-focused majors. “Hearing that, you realize that people just don’t understand the problem. They’re trying to make programming cool by excluding women, making it boys only. It makes me wonder why someone would try to apply a social construct that’s discriminating when you can just appeal to all students.”

(Next page: The history of the problem)

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5 Responses to “‘Brogrammers,’ ‘hogrammers,’ and the gender gap”

May 2, 2012

I find this so disturbing that none of this has changed, and I think gotten worse since I was a programmer in the 70’s and 80’s. First of all, hogrammer is a very pejurative term. Ho is an abbreviation for w(ho)re!!!! the alternative term proglammer is not much better, visions of glitter fill the air with this one! We in the industry of CS and educators of CS have got to do a much better job of including and encouraging 52% of the population in this amazing profession.

May 2, 2012

I too find it very disturbing, sexist and degrading to women to be called hogrammers. This states any female in this industry is a “slut”. Who ever came up with that is small minded and belong in a primitive land. This is the year 2012 and women should not be looked down at. We have come too far for this type of treatment and for some airhead nerd to label us in this manner is beyond me. How would you like your mother to apply for a position as a programmer and one of your “bros” labels her as a HOgrammer…I’m sure that wouldn’t sit right with you. So don’t put such a degrading label on women if you don’t want others to call your mother or sister that name. This is from a mother with daughters and sons. I’ll be damn if I hear my son call someone a “ho”…his teeth would be scattered all over the floor. I have taught my kids to respect everyone…maybe that’s something your parents lacked.

    May 7, 2012

    I don’t disagree at all with the concern & disdain for the sexist behavior happening surrounding this issue. I do have a concern that in the same post discrediting these ridiculous labels, the term “nerd” is used to perpetuate the very thing we are aiming to end. Then later in the post, there is talk of teaching children to respect everyone…right after saying something about teeth being scattered all over. These mixed messages are not helping.

May 3, 2012

I’m astonished that companies would find the term “hogrammer” to be acceptable. It would seem to me that the HR departments would scream bloody murder at such an offensive and sexist term. Companies which allow its use are just asking for law suits.

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