Are there relatively few women in the clojure community?

I’m only familiar with the clojure community at a bit of a distance, but from here it seems like there are few women present.

Is this true? Any ideas as to why if so?

My first thought is that my perception may be a consequence of small numbers - ie. women would be a fraction (those who speak up in the fora I peruse) of a fraction (clojurists) of a fraction (generally low base rate of women in tech).

But I don’t know, and it seems a pity if there is something about the community (seems unlikely given the general tone here?) that keeps women away.

Question prompted by noting it’s International Women’s Day

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Compared with other language community, I think Clojure is doing okay on this front. There’s the Clojure Bridge effort. There are a few prominent women Clojure programmers. If you look at the list of sponsored Clojure programmers by Nubank/Cognitect, you will find a few female names there. If you check out the speaker lists in the Clojure conferences, you will also find a few female speakers. Not to brag, in my own company, our hiring record is about half and half.

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I wish there were more women (and other under-represented folk) in forums, Twitter, Slack. I don’t think I interact with any non-white men in my usual day-to-day interactions.

I mean… I think there are just very few women in tech in general. I find the industry overwhelmingly toxic and abusive as a whole, but it pays the bills. It’s pretty common to not find people of marginalized genders in forums or public spaces because participation tends to ultimately lead to abuse, so it’s a self-preservation thing.

If anything the Clojure community is an outlier and for sure better than average. I’ve had only positive experiences and so far everyone’s been very helpful and a pleasure to work with. Notably, this includes several prominent library or even core language maintainers. The culture of a community tends to be set by example of its leaders, and I think Clojure’s do a great job modelling constructive conversation and friendly dialogue in e.g. the Clojurians slack and here.

TLDR; yeah, there aren’t many marginalized genders represented around here, but I don’t think that has anything to do with Clojure specifically. It’s a much bigger problem in the wider tech industry.

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Yes, I agree there are not many women in Clojure BUT I think the earlier comments hit the nail on the head… Especially the one about clj being a niche of the tech field and already not being a lot of women in the tech field as it is.

The other thing I can think of is that clojure is usually a language people find later in their career… and even though there seem to be big pushes towards steering women into STEM now, that was NOT the case 10 years ago.

The community as a whole is not doing anything to actively discourage women and I would even say that the creators have gone out of their way to encourage underrepresented groups in tech via sponsorships etc.

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I don’t remember whether the Clojure Survey asks about gender, race, and ethnicity, but the current result page doesn’t seem to mention these: Clojure - State of Clojure 2020 Results
I’m kind of surprised at that.

I do agree that it seems as if the Clojure community is not very diverse, and I do have the impression that it’s more welcoming than some other tech communities. I say this based on statements on conference websites, on some tool websites, and because of Clojure Bridge. I’m a white male, however, so I don’t know–I wouldn’t have experienced what people who are not in the dominant group have.

What I really want to say, though, is that often, one doesn’t know the gender, race, etc. behind the user id that you see on the screen, and one shouldn’t automatically assume that it represents a white male. Because of the toxicity that @kiramclean mentioned, it’s entirely possible that members of underrepresented groups are sometimes more comfortable remaining anonymous. So despite what seems to be a pretty clear demographic imbalance among Clojure programmers–I don’t doubt that for a second–it might be that there is a little more diversity than is apparent. That’s not meant to excuse the situation. I just think that we shouldn’t make assumptions about people when they don’t choose to give further information. That’s up to them.

Hello, I think so far my experience has been that there’s quite less number of women in tech in general and clojure is sort of more on the difficult sides to reach out to for probably various reasons like language popularity, easy to get started with, availability of community around you to interact etc etc. I do feel like in general the tech world doesn’t have as many women to look up to, and that does reflect on Clojure’s community as well, I know maybe one person I look up to and that’s pretty much it :sweat_smile: But to be honest I may not have yet experienced the entirety of Clojure community as well since I’ve only recently started learning Clojure! So far I think I’m lucky, privileged enough to not face direct toxicity and discrimination but I do hear this being a constant theme across the tech industry so I’m bias to believe Clojure also might have picked up some of that dirt along the way. I resonate with what @kiramclean says, the tech industry as a whole is toxic and inclined towards the benefit of cis-het-men but hey it does pay the bill and I don’t have much options either.

About marginalised genders and their representation: I think in general this is becoming tough and really depends on the place you may be from, for example in India you’d find it extremely difficult to find lgbtq folks openly working in tech industry but at the same time I do see queer-friendly and sometimes queer-only events being organized in parts of Europe and the west, and that definitely does bring hope but we do have a long long way to go! As @lambduhhh put it, we are seeing more women being pushed into STEM and I think that’s great but this is a sort of thing that takes a lot of time and effort.

What we can possibly do: Please include gender, race and ethnicity as demographics in the survey, they tell an important story of not just the people but also the Community as a whole. Maybe someone can start a seperate study group only for women, like DjangoGirls, or RailsGirls or say something all together for marginalized groups, I would say for now start off with just one group for all marginalized folks and slowly branch out as more people join.

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I agree that Clojure as a community has a lot of work to do here.

ClojureBridge was created specifically to try to encourage more people who identify as women to learn Clojure and was modeled directly on RailsBridge. I knew RailsBridge founder Sarah Allen from our days together at Macromedia and ended up sat next to her years later on a flight from San Francisco to St Louis for the Strange Loop conference and our conversation on that flight led directly to the creation of ClojureBridge – which has grown from its early days with workshops in Durham, NC and San Francisco, CA to a truly global organization and it is running a workshop in Bangalore this weekend.

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Thanks for the responses all. I don’t have anything to add other than to echo @mars0i & @buoyantair in being surprised not to have seen any demographic questions on the survey. ClojureBridge had kind of passed me by but I had a glance at the website last night. Looks like a good initiative.

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now when i read:

i wanna borrow a bit from Pindar / Nietzsche and say:

we should support / encourage people in becoming who / what they are, not steer / push them into becoming who / what we figure they oughta be.

so, should my 3 year old daughter someday find that she wants to become a programmer just like her father and her grandfather before her. I’D BE THRILLED!!!
should she want to follow in the footsteps of her mother and become a vet; GREAT!
whatever interests she will someday develop / discover, i will try to support her as best as i can / know how. ( occupation statistics etc. be damned! :smile: )

having said that, seams undeniable to me, that minorities are always having to fight uphill battles, so giving them an extra hand whenever possible ( ClojureBridge ) strikes me very much a commendable effort.


p.s. should you know German, u may find the following of interest:

https://www.zeit.de/campus/2019-10/geschlechterverhaeltnis-studiengaenge-frauen-maenner-studium-universitaet?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

p.p.s. some of the charts taken from the first article should be intelligible regardless of German language skillz. for example:

( informatik = computer science )

looking at:

i really like the following:

The Washington Post

*The Washington Post’*s stylebook, as of 2015, recommends trying to “write around the problem, perhaps by changing singulars to plurals, before using the singular they as a last resort” and specifically permits use of they for a “gender-nonconforming person”.[116]

so i will try to go with this style henceforth. ( i imagine i should be able to “write around the problem” in most if not all cases without too much trouble… )

would it make sense to create something of a ¨clojureverse-singular-they-style-guide¨ for this? maybe we could put something in the FAQ section?

I am cautious about referring to RMS on issues like this, as he has no more expertise than the rest of us, meaning that these posts are his opinion. Also, he first posted that page in 2012, and it is entirely possible that his opinion has evolved since then. Instead, if we’re to defer to authority, we can look to groups like the Associated Press which introduced singular “they” into their style guide in 2017.

Other than the precedent set by common usage in language, and even by Shakespeare, I am particularly swayed by the AP’s reference to respecting people who identify as neither male nor female. The Clojure community is, in general, quite good at respecting others, and prioritizing individuals in such a way would seem to be consistent with these values.

Incidentally, I found that page on the AP style guide from The Washington Post, published over a year after Bill Walsh’s update on the WaPo’s style guide that included the new inclusion of singular “they”. It does appear that these style guides have evolved in the direction of singular “they” as it becomes more accepted.

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I am happy it doesn’t ask about that.

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It is a sad fact that many women working in tech find the regular discouragement that they often encounter to be tiring after many years. Some of the most talented women I know have suggested that they may leave this field because they feel exhausted. So there are fewer older women working in software, and many of those who are still here are not being especially public about their presence.

While people of all levels of experience discover and enjoy Clojure, I agree with @lambduhhh that it tends to attract people who have more experience. This negatively correlates with the ratio of people working in tech who aren’t men.

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agreed. ( also, I have deleted now the post with the reference to the article from RMS. )

after doing a little more research about this yesterday, i have to say, that this particular point is what actually makes me feel kinda bad for having used she quite a bit these last years. :frowning:

my simplistic thinking ( as a non native speaker ) was just that something as pers or using they in the singular could be a bit confusing + using the she was actually me trying to emphasize the role / importance of woman in tech / programming.

Hello - I’ve been an engineering manager for a fully remote clojure team for over 10 years.
I’m currently trying to hire 3 senior backend developers - with experience in clojure or functional programming - and I rarely, if ever, get resumes from women. I would love to see more resumes from women in the mix!

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