Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

Stupid Question 86: Who would hire you w just 15 months experience, and is it just because are a woman?

[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]

So I woke up today with my face and half a question mark on thefront page of the leading newspaper on computer science. You would think that would excite me, and in one way you are right- but on the other side … well, read on.

IDG - iris classon

Just in time for my talk at the mini conference nForum tomorrow, where I will be talking about stereotypes, newbies (like me) and the lack of women in computer science. Lucky for me I just got new material from the comments on the article. It’s barely 8 am and the war is on. The comments are, as always when anonymous rather nasty - and proves why it is even more so important that we do have a discussion about our attitudes in regards to newbies and women in computer science.



I would like to answer some of the question there, but without hiding. I can stand up for my answers and my opinions. I don’t want to tell the people that commented just to f-of, I still stand for my opinions that ALL QUESTIONS are WELCOME, even those that hurt. And yes, those hurt a lot - but it would pain me even more if I wasn’t able to answer them. Let’s cut the emotions and look at the facts - after all,- we are programmers aren’t we? If you don’t mind I had to remake some of the comments into decent questions so I can actually give an answer. Hope this helps, if not : contact me on Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, email me or call me (it is very easy to get a hold of me) and let’s have a coffee and I’ll answer all your questions. I’ll gladly bring my computer and show you my projects (not those with an NDA attached), and if you want to you can also meet my coworkers and my bosse(es) and ask them what ever you want. What I want to get at is I am not shy to show my programmer abilities, I have nothing to hide. I believe all great programmers have nothing to hide, and are interested in the truth and reality- and if you are then you would want to check out the facts instead of assuming things, right? I avoid as much as I can to code based on assumption. I code on facts as much as I can- I am a believer of logic and good practices. So here are some facts to counter the assumptions on the article:

1. Who would hire you as a developer after just 15 months?
I was hired before that, and there are several reasons. Since I have two employers I will have to answer separately.
When I was applying for a job, after 4 months, I had several offers. Most of them were smaller applications (proof of concept types) and the salary offered was, as expected rather low. Which made sense. I have a good salary now- which I am very happy with.
Dotnet Mentor hired me for the following reasons, and you are more than welcome to contact my employer (phone number on the site) to confirm:

  1. He believes in having a mix of developers with different levels and skills,- as it creates a good work and learning environment.
  2. The new consultants aren’t as expensive and perfect for smaller projects, proof of concept etc. A good way to establish a first start with a client that has a restricted budget.
  3. I have good networking skills, mainly because I truly love the community and I am very eager to interact and learn from other developers- I have many that have my back (and I am there for them as well!!). With other devs being the best, and most up to date source for documentation, I have access to invaluable knowledge that means I hardly ever get stuck.
  4. He believes in me (and also the other developer that is also right out of school- and we have the same wage), and considered this to be an investment.
  5. We don’t have sales people, we get our own projects, and all of us working there are able to get projects as we are good networkers.
  6. I’m actually a decent programmer. Not great (yet), not awful (I have to good of a teacher and too good friends and co workers to get away with that)
    Telerik hired me for the following reasons:
  7. I interact well with the community and I have a tremendous passion for what I do (programming and the people involved) and have a good out reach
  8. I’m able to represent the company values in a good way, that being having an open mind, being kind, positive, helpful and non-judgmental. We work with developers of all levels and skills, and cultures, so how you are as a person and what you believe in and stand for is very important.
  9. Again, I am a decent programmer,- and in regards to the area I work in for Telerik, Windows Store Apps, I’m probably a little bit better than just decent
  • and many more reasons, but there are good reasons for me having a job, two jobs :) I know many companies that hire, so let me know if you are looking for a good place to work. I’l be happy to pass on their details to you.

2. Did you get a job just because you are a woman?
No, I’ve been offered jobs by people that don’t even know how I look like. And just as quite a few will think that men will be favored over women in many job interviews, the risk of being hired based on gender the other way around also exists. But, if we look at research on the subject, it is more likely that men get a job because of their gender than women in this industry. BUT, yes women are popular in CS now, basically because many employers see a great benefit in having gender equity, and according to studies those that do so have a more productive environment, and the different angle women can offer is of great value to the customers and the end product, which often is used by 50% women :)
In regards to the comment about my boss being interested in me because of my looks, we don’t even work in the same office, and if I had a feeling that anybody at work were to look at me ’that way’ I would probably quit (I am married), as it would be very uncomfortable. I don’t dress like that when I meet up with most clients, as the project is the center of the discussion and not my wardrobe :P I’ll let it shine instead :)

3. What types of languages and frameworks do you work with?
C#, Javascript (and of course jQuery, some coffescript and typescript), markup (html, html5, XAML (not sure if jade fits here as a templating engine) etc.), query languages (linq, T-SQL). I’m also at the moment learning ruby, and can’t wait to look into clojure and so much more :D :D :D
WinRT, MVC3 and 4 (.Net), all XAML technologies (WPF, SL, WP), Win and Web forms (but not that much). I’ve done some android and iPhone development, but in javascript. Getting started with Ruby on Rails, and currently working on a project with Node, Express, jade, stylus, couch db, knockout, kendo, require, nano and socket io- it’s fun!!!. For more about me feel free to read the coder interview on the Code Project: A Coder Interview With Iris Classon

4. What kind of projects do you work on?
I’m currently on the backend of the Spotify architecture working with the fallback servers. Just kidding :D Obviously I’m not working on heavy systems, I am very aware of what I can and cannot do, and so are both my employers. We pick projects that fit my skills, leaving room to grow and a bit of a challenge. The projects have been of smaller size, and I have been pair programming, we do code reviews every week, and stand up meetings every day and use a kanban board to track user stories and the progression. No code is shipped without review and refactoring.

That were all the questions I could find among the comments, but if you have ANY QUESTIONS (or assumptions that you would like to confirm or refute), again, PLEASE contact me! I wont get mad or upset - ask whatever you want, I would be very happy to get the opportunity to meet another developer/person/whatever - and I’m sure we will get along just fine. I haven’t met many people in my life that I don’t like, and I don’t judge people based on one or two opinions.

For more about me, this blog post is already way to long and me-me-me-me :P , have a look here for some interviews with me where I might answer some of your questions, there is also two of my talks there, the technical talk at DevReach 2012 you can download the PPT, and you can watch the soft value talk from Öredev 2012 (it’s free). Or even better, come listen to my talk at nForum tomorrow (and also meet my friends and coworkers), or attend one of the User Group meetings I organize, there is one today and have a chat, food and drinks, with us geeky devs :)


Leave a comment below, or by email.
Daniel Forster
11/19/2012 2:20:53 AM
You are awesome in so many ways Iris and a role-model for aspiring developers. Very well written post. /hugs 
11/19/2012 2:23:49 AM
I was hired as a junior after less than 6 months of programming experience. I was straight out of uni from a degree with little to no real computer programming (Music Tech) but I knuckled down when I came out learnt the basics, got an internship, got some experience and finally got a job. Here I am 18 months later leading native iOS projects

Sometimes having the intelligence and motivation is all employers are really looking for. You can teach someone to code well, it's harder to unlearn bad practices.
11/19/2012 2:36:26 AM
Hello stereotyp-Sweden and the Swedish jealousy where everything should be "lagom".
Guess they are angry with them self because they did not dare to take the leap...(!?)  
We need more women in this industry.
Show them some Girl-Power!!! 
Good luck! :)
11/19/2012 2:40:51 AM
Hello stereotyp-Sweden and the Swedish jealousy where everything should be "lagom".
Guess they are angry with them self because they did not dare to take the leap...(!?)  
We need more women in this industry.
Show them some Girl-Power!!! 
Good luck! :)

Iris Classon
11/19/2012 2:48:12 AM
Reply to: Matt
Very true! I know many great developers, some with little experience some with a lot. What they have in common is the passion and a good attitude! 
Iris Classon
11/19/2012 2:49:42 AM
Reply to:
Thank you for the support! We sure do need more women, and men in the industry. We need more people in generally, and gender really should not be an issue. Thank you for taking the time to show you support, It means a lot to me, and my family! 
11/19/2012 2:49:57 AM
Impressive. My experience is that I would rather work with someone who has 15 months' experience and want to learn something new, than someone who worked 15 years and think they know everything. 
Sverker Norlander
11/19/2012 2:51:05 AM
Hi Iris,

I like your stupid questions, probably because that's the way I learn best too (but mos times I don't remember the answers).

Keep up the good work! 
Iris Classon
11/19/2012 2:51:50 AM
Reply to: Daniel Forster
Thank you Daniel =)
I miss the class, and the great support there (the community is great thou, so I get support- but I miss the bad jokes and the frustrating impossible assignments :D ). Im very lucky to have people like you, and our classmates, in my life - that is what will build the future software!- support, cooperation and a sweet sweet sense of humor :D 
Marcus Hammarberg
11/19/2012 2:58:55 AM
Hang in there Iris!

There's, sadly, idiots all around. They tend to get scared when someone comes along and out-smart or out-act them. You do. 

Keep it up - you have a lot of people cheering for you. I'm one of them! 
11/19/2012 3:02:39 AM
I'm very surprised of the not-so-sweet comments in the thread (that seems closed now BTW).
Keep up! 
11/19/2012 3:08:13 AM
I didn't see that coming, probably because I was thinking that ugly stuff is a traditional thing in my country. The conspiracy... 
Who would hire you after only 15 months of experience is not a problem. Who would hire you without any experience? Well, for the sake of this argument, Siemens hires people like this. They only need to have some perks (for instance, know German). 
Oh, and you don't get to do a podcast with Hanselman without a good reason. 
11/19/2012 3:16:26 AM
Hi Iris! I really like your style, and you shure looks like you're the real deal in terms of skills/knowledge. A person with the willingness to learn and who pushes this willingness is always a good target for recruiters. Especially someone with the ability to reach out to the community.
Still - no need to be blind for the obvious:
I really would like to see the source behind this :"if we look at research on the subject, it is more likely that men get a job because of their gender than women in this industry"

After 20 years in the industry I have seen nothing like this. I can tell one thing though: being a good looking girl is a big plus when you're looking for a job in this industry. Not because the boss would like to do anything with you, but for the positive 'shine' (lacking words for it) it gives, just as it is the beautiful women who gets the ads for cosmetics, cars, clothes, whatever.
I have seen this many times.
That doesn't mean that you Iris isn't good at what you do, but as others already stated, there is lot's of guys just as good.
Fact of life... I'm happy that you succeeds. 
11/19/2012 3:23:27 AM
Stå på dig, alla har vi varit nybörjare någongång.
Själv hade jag i princip inte kodat något innan jag började min IT-utbildning och nu är det full fart varje dag med massa spännande projekt och allt som oftast nya tekniker.
En bransch som ständigt utvecklas så det blir aldrig tråkigt :-) 
11/19/2012 3:23:28 AM thats why the commenting was closed on that article!
I still get surprised of all those f-ng stupid ass idiots out there! seem to be extemely talented...I dont know anything about your skill level, but based on what you've written above and your blog, there cant be many ppl out there with such short experience in the field that can match your skills... 
Mr F
11/19/2012 4:20:25 AM
Reply to: Iris Classon
Near impossible assignments, mind you.  : p 
Iris Classon
11/19/2012 4:26:54 AM
Reply to: Mr F
Near? LOL, sure... Well, you are right :) You have done an amazing job, and I am so proud of everybody in the class, and even more proud to be a part of that. The best times I've ever had as a developer were spent in that classroom with those people. Sweat, tears and pure frustration, laughing until the stomach hurt, and programming until the wrists gave up. With the right people and the right tools, + right guidance- and a tiny bit of time, nothing is impossible. 
Mr F
11/19/2012 4:39:14 AM
Reply to: Iris Classon
Actually, I, as well as you, thought them to be closer to impossible. Until you guys came through. again and again. : )
I am very proud of what you and the rest of the class has accomplished! Also, I have been kind of envious of the giggles and the laughter.. The late hours not so much. ; ) 
Joseph Cooney
11/19/2012 5:33:44 AM
Disappointing. My impression from the articles you've written and the "questions" you've asked was that you had much more experience. You also have a pretty engaging writing style, and they certainly can't argue with the volume of your output. Just "professional" jealously then on their part? 
11/19/2012 7:49:51 AM
Nobody that have met you can feel any doubt about your commitment and will to learn all there is to know about fun software engineering, your energy and thirst for knowledge (and to spread the knowledge further) is inspiring! Keep coding, keep smiling! :-) 
Rick Byrd
11/19/2012 8:29:29 AM
I have been following your website for several months, you come across as very talented and enthusiastic . You have a wonderful gift/talent to get your level of expertise is such a short time. I don't understand why anyone would not be accepting of you, I find you to be an inspiration. 
Gareth Bradley
11/19/2012 8:29:37 AM
To all the unbelievers and damn right horrible and disgusting people out there - Without Iris (and a few other sources of information) blog and WinRT Series, i would not of progressed as quickly as I have. This blog is on my favorites for Windows 8 Development just behind the MSDN site. 

Oh, by the way unbelievers, I have been programming since school and working commercially for 6 years. I specialize in C languages outside of the .NET Arena, so it isn't the lack of knowledge I lack - AND I LEARN SOMETHING NEW WHEN I VISIT THIS BLOG.

Again, thanks Iris and your fantastic community effort. I find it a shame you have to justify and prove yourself. This blog says it all.

Much love. 
11/19/2012 8:46:48 AM
Kul att läsa om dig, det är ett otroligt personligt driv och bra lärare som ligger bakom din förmåga.

Skulle vara intressant om du kunde skriva lite om dina personliga erfarenheter om din Lärandeprocess,
om det var några problem i början och hur du tog dig förbi dom, det är inte lätt att ta sig an något helt nytt ibland.
Var det något tillfälle där du kända att det lossnade och du förstod hur det hela fungerade. Heureka.

Lite nybörjar tipps på vad man ska fokusera på och vad som kan vara tidsödslade, studieteknik.

Det är nog mycket man kan skriva om det hela, alla lär sig på olika sätt. 
11/19/2012 2:41:39 PM
Tjena Iris, vill ge mitt perspektiv på detta.

Som du säkert vet så representerar du två kategorier människor som inte är alltför vanliga i IT-branschen: Kvinnor och människor med icke-generisk/unik stil. För att kanske uttrycka det lite bättre så ser du ganska "exotisk" ut jämfört med de flesta trötta konsulter och därför får du säkert din beskärda del uppmärksamhet.

Att någon som bara har utvecklat i drygt ett år blir anställd tillhör kanske inte ovanligheterna, men kollar man t ex på ditt nuvarande företags hemsida kräver de minst 5 års erfarenhet av de som söker. Det är inte särskilt konstigt att folk tror att du har fått jobbet tack vare ditt utseende, att folk utgår från att företaget vill "scora PK-poäng" genom att ta in en medlem som tillför "variation" i gruppen som idag uteslutande består av medelålders män.

Notera att jag inte själv står för dessa åsikter. Av din blogg att döma är du redan efter 15 månader en duktig utvecklare som har ett intresse för ditt jobb, vilket kanske är en av de viktigaste egenskaperna. Men det spelar ingen roll om man utgår från att du har tagit dig fram på andra meriter - vilket tyvärr väldigt många kommer att anta.

Vill du undvika detta i framtiden? Detta låter kanske trist men jag tror det enda sättet är att bli mer generisk. Ha en vanligare hårfärg, anspela mindre på faktumet att du är en tjej som programmerar och fokusera mer på jobbet i sig. Dessa egenskaper har garanterat hjälpt dig i din karriär dock så varför skulle du vilja ändra på det? Folk du träffar i jobbet kommer garanterat aldrig glömma dig.

Så kör på och lycka till, men detta lär tyvärr fortsätta så länge du ser ut som du gör idag. 
11/19/2012 4:10:27 PM
As always love your blog. Don't let the haters get u down. Working where u do u must be an awsome developer! One of these days I will too, but have to control some behavior stuff first 
Tracy Sells
11/19/2012 10:38:20 PM

There is a saying ( and a song) - "haters gonna hate - players gonna play".  Don't let the haters get you down one bit.  I would much rather work with someone who is open to learning than someone with 20 years experience who can't be bothered by learning new stuff or is closed minded.  I have dealt with that all to often and have gotten pretty good at dealing with people like that unfortunately.  If someone has enough desire - and the aptitude for programming - the sky's the limit!!!!!! 
11/20/2012 6:11:09 AM
You are just great! Love your article, your answers, and your spirit. 
You are welcome to join Geek Girl Meetup in Göteborg, if you aren't a member yet! <3 
11/20/2012 7:11:03 AM
You are in all ways an amazing woman. Not only do you look like a zillion dollars with your gorgeous hair, which makes you stand out visually.
But your blog, and especially the way your counter the jealous whiners, show that you're something out of the ordinary.
2 minutes with Google and "Iris Classon", will show everyone that you're a smart and visionary person, with a fantastic drive in everything you do. 
Don't let the envious loosers get to you. They're not worth it.

Keep up the spirit, bish!

Jon Hallin
11/20/2012 7:12:08 AM
Huh. Turns out there ARE stupid questions... 
11/22/2012 2:45:44 PM
Med den personligheten ... skulle anställt dig på stört! ;-)

Lustigt... jag som precis funderar på motsatsen .. att omskola mig från programmerare till (något) hälsorelaterat... dietist? :-D 
Minna Mercke Schmidt
12/1/2012 12:03:11 PM
Way to go Iris! Read an article about you in Sydsvenskan and just had to read to my 16-year old daughter as well (hoping she'd follow your foot steps). So inspiring! You'll have a fantastic life with the attitude you have - happy that you are willing to share it with rest of the world! /Minna :) 
12/21/2012 3:43:36 PM
Heya! Fellow engineer, was pointed here by a blog I read. First off, thank you for fighting back. It's very difficult to oppose the unthinking sexism that permeates our field, and there are all-too-often consequences for standing up for your rights, so I'm glad to see it happen.

Second off, you're not alone! Other (Bay Area, since that's what I'm familar with) women and allies in the STEM fields abound. If you get a chance (and if you don't mind me blatantly link-whoring for a bit, please feel free to remove this post if you don't like it), check out, and to find lots of other people finding solutions to the same problems.

All the best, and keep it up! 
2/22/2016 12:57:29 AM
Yes, certain groups face even more challenges getting hired, but older workers are one of those groups. I m glad that you found an employer who was willing to hire for skills and didn t get distracted by, or let prejudices about age prevent him from hiring you. It is nice to know that there are still some employers who don t consider it a bad thing, but your employer is rare. 

Last modified on 2012-11-18

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