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Developers, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Programmers

March 2nd, 2010

Experts continue to warn of a looming shortage of North American scientists, engineers, developers, and IT workers in general. Efforts like the K-12 CS Model Curriculum attempt to introduce computer science concepts to children as they progress through grade / high school in hopes that they’ll fill this void, but there’s another issue in play. Developers don’t let their children grow up to be programmers.

My hunch is that, most engineers, developer, or related IT professional would rather see their children succeed them – becoming doctors and lawyers and such, not an IT professional.

Malcom Gladwell (in Outliers) presents an interesting account of career progressions within family trees:

In 1982, a sociology graduate student named Louise Farkas went to visit a number of nursing homes and residential hotels [she was looking for] the children of people [who had immigrated] at the turn of the last century. And for each of the people she interviewed, she constructed a family tree showing what a line of parents and children and grandchildren and, in some cases, great-grandchildren did for a living.

Here is her account of “subject #18″:

A Russian tailor artisan comes to America, takes to the needle trade, works in a sweat shop for a small salary. Later takes garments to finish at home with the help of his wife and older children. In order to increase his salary he works through the night. Later he makes a garment and sells it on New York streets. He accumulates some capital and goes into a business venture with his sons. They open a shop to create men’s garments. The Russian tailor and his sons become men’s suit manufacturers supplying several men’s stores The sons and the father become prosperous. The sons’ children become educated professionals.

Farkas’s … family trees go on for pages, each virtually identical to the one before

From my observations, many developers / IT workers are first generation middle class, first generation post secondary educated, immigrants, or all of the above (myself included). Being a developer or IT professional is a small step up the ladder in helping our successors succeed.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings Tags:
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