Yesterday I decided to post the #challengeAccepted challenge on Facebook. It's a photo challenge where you take a photo of yourself and share with up to 50 beautiful women across Facebook to pass on the challenge during these Corona filled times! I decided I was going to add some of the men in my life, after all, why not share with only one gender? I mean, I am in a lot of Java Programming groups on Facebook and I have helped a lot of men with their programming problems. Some have engaged in what is known as masculine toxicity. It's the toxic culture where there is a competitive nature. The inevitable 'one up man-ship' and competitive nature can be destructive. It is not helpful in the slightest especially to those learning Java. For example, yesterday I know a complete beginner posted up an error that we have ALL experienced as programmers and the rhetoric went like this - go back to beginner's, read another book etc etc.
The destructive nature of male toxicity will prevent people from learning and engaging in groups - at all! Some of the comments under mine were quite harsh and pointed out that he should go back and read a book. While this might be true, it is not solving the problem at hand and we all encourage programmers to 'learn by doing' so telling them to go back and read a book isn't only unhelpful, it is invalidating and discouraging for those that are starting out. Remember this was his first post in this group and he had stated that.
Perhaps something was being unearthed in me yesterday when I realised that some of the posts that I engaged in in the Women in Tech groups were also excluding the voice of men and some of the Java programming specific groups didn't have any women! It was as if at times there was a breeding ground for separation. A toxic separation where we do not hear the other gender's perspective. We only see them separating themselves from each other in order to solve problems. While this can be productive when looking at and encountering gender-specific issues such as the pay gap, it is also a case of finding the balance and inclusivity among genders. Why does one group get to have fun programming or engaging in social activities for fun and not the other? It made me think!
I was here doing all this Java programming, dancing, singing and engaging in some social activities online during lockdown while my male colleagues were missing out. I shared the challenge with them and some stepped up to the challenge and I have to say kudos to them for accepting it and running with it. I could not be more proud of knowing these men that will engage in things for fun and let go of the stigma that is attached to their male toxic environments. What started out as a bit of fun allowed us to be more inclusive.