Most Developers Are Middle-Aged Married Folks, Yet Brogrammers Persist

A few weeks ago the tech world was rightly aghast when some bozos took the stage at Techcrunch Disrupt 2013 to showcase their "Titstare" application. It was but the latest in a series of industry missteps over gender equality, including Pycon's Donglegate and Klout's Stanford campus recruiting of brogrammers

Such demeaning glorifications of so-called brogramming culture are curious in light of a new Evans Data survey that indicates that the vast majority of developers are married, middle-aged, have two to three children, and most likely have a mortgage. Are these guys jerks at home, too?

Developer Demographics: Not A Frat House In Sight

Usually when we think of "brogrammers," we picture Silicon Valley hipsters that may have graduated from college, but can't leave the frat house behind. The reality, according to Evans Data survey of more than 1,400 programmers, is somewhat different.

For one thing, while popular culture celebrates the idea of developers as pizza-eating loners, the data suggests otherwise. According to Evans Data, 71% of developers are married and only 3% are divorced (compared to a 40% divorce rate nationwide). Roughly 68% of developers have between one to three children. Only 32% are childless. Most developers are married with children.

Not surprisingly, then, most developers aren't particularly young. Of the 18.2 million programmers on the planet, most left college long ago. While the median age has been falling for years, in North America the median age is still a reasonably stodgy 36.

Lastly, while brogrammer culture is rightly derided as juvenile, it apparently has flourished among a highly educated workforce. We may celebrate the dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, but 85% of developers have college degrees, 40% have Master's degrees and another 5% have doctoral degrees.

In other words, developers should know better.

A Rising Tide Sinks All Boats?

Maybe the problem is more nuanced. As the chart below shows, the recession in 2007 may have taken a serious toll on older software developers in the U.S., introducing a much younger developer demographic. As Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data, posits, "U.S. workforces downsized and older developers went into retirement (either voluntarily or not). At the same time, the popularity of mobile devices blossomed, capturing the imagination of younger people who began writing mobile apps."

Is it these younger developers who are to blame?

Growing Out Of Brogramming

Maybe. Of course, among 18.2 million developers, it's not surprising that some would be idiots, including married idiots with kids.

What is surprising is that we tolerate them. But maybe it's just a numbers game.

Evans Data finds that men comprise 86% of the global developer population, or 15.7 million people. In a crowd that large, it's as easy to assume you can get away with sexist remarks as it is to let them go, assuming someone else will take the bozos to task for their misogynistic behavior.

The good news is that more people have been willing to publicly shame the Titstare developers of the world. As web and mobile developer Gina Trapani writes, the companies that shelter or embrace brogramming culture will lose the best talent:

Brogrammer culture celebrates frat house values, youth over experience and men over women. In the war for hiring great talent, the companies that embrace this culture rather than reject it will lose. That's a good thing.
It's a very good thing, indeed. I just hope male developers' families will also hold them to this higher standard.