Taking Brogrammer Back

The word 'brogrammer' has gotten a fairly bad rap over the last year or so. It was never a particularly popular word but lately it has come to symbolize a genuine and ever-growing concern over sexism in technology. Whether you're talking about booth babes or male-focused conferences, women are not always treated as equals when it comes to computers and code. This is not what a brogrammer means to me.

I first ran into the term a little over a year ago while I was working at DealerFire. There were a lot of deadlines that my department had to hit over the holidays, forcing us to come in early and work late. Recognizing the hard work the management team was regularly showering praises on the team, even going as far as treating us all to an occasional dinner or gift.

It was weird to be in a team like that. Being a nerd who grew up in a rural school I was used to working on projects alone. Now, working with three other male programmers, all of us focused on a single departmental goal - this was solid. When I bumped into the word it made sense. We weren't bros in a traditional sense. We didn't go out and party (that often), shout at each other while pumping iron, or talk about the awesome weekend one night stands.

Our brogramming team was just that: a team. We had each other's backs. If someone couldn't figure out a task we didn't point fingers, we explained and helped out. If a deadline was approaching we all chipped in. If a member had to be out of the office there was no backstabbing, only others stepping forward to fill in. Our mutual respect and common goals made us more than a company department. We were a team of brogrammers.

Things change over time. Eventually some people moved on and new faces arrived. One of the more awkward moments was when a member of the opposite gender joined the team. The word brogrammer was used less frequently then, but she understood the level of camaraderie fairly early on, and when it was used there was no question that everyone was included.

Leaving DealerFire was hard to do. There were the typical regrets and company loyalties, and then on top was the feeling that I was quitting the team, the team that I had spent so many hours participating with. The conditions at DealerFire were not conducive for that type of team to continue, though, and I do hope I can find a workplace where such a team can and will and exist.

For me, being a brogrammer is not about being male programmer or a good developer, or even worse, proliferating sexist stereotypes. For me it means putting your pride aside and digging into a problem as a team, or pulling late hours to cover for a coworker without complaining, or genuinely trying to share knowledge as a team so everyone can benefit. And if I can approach my current and future development teams in an open and inviting way that I'd like to think that I'm still a decent brogrammer.