guido van rossum

Guido van Rossum is a famous name in the programming world. He is the creator of the Python programming language which was developed back in 1989. It is only since the last few years when this general-purpose programming language started gaining popularity.

The number of Python users has increased significantly and it was not only named as the best programming language by IEEE but also the most asked-about language on Stack Overflow, overthrowing JavaScript — the all-time winner for decades.

Despite its popularity, the author of Python isn’t happy with the state of diversity among people working in open source programming space.

In an interview with Swapnil Bhartiya, van Rossum discussed how women tend to get sidelined by men — many of which are less competent than their female counterparts.

“There is a certain male attitude that is endemic in many projects where a woman would just not feel comfortable claiming that she is right,” said van Rossum.

“A guy who knows less than that woman might honestly believe [that he is right], so they present a much more confident image.”

He thinks that the ideas of incompetent men usually get accepted more than merited women because they can be more forceful in how they present those ideas.

To put things into perspective, according to Stack Overflow: Developers who are data scientists or academic researchers are about 10-times more likely to be men than women, while developers who are system admins or DevOps specialists are 25-30 times more likely to be men than women.”

Further diving into the issue, van Rossum thinks that this fundamental difference in attitude between men and women in the programming space is due to societal issues.

He believes that feminism is right and that society needs to change its outlook. While such a transformation is going to take ages, van Rossum says he is doing his part by taking up the responsibility to act in places he has influence such as the Python community.

To establish more diversity in the open source community, he believes it is imperative to enforce a stronger code of conduct and mentoring culture.

The Python author admits that he now mentors women and underrepresented minority programmers only. “But white guys can forget it,” he added. “They are not the ones who need it most.”

He also confesses that he was made aware of the issue to what he refers to as “unconscious bias” on the part of male contributors. Van Rossum says the experience was eye-opening and it has changed his outlook and believes it could change others too.

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