Recently on the Devchix mailing list, aimee brought up the software craftsmanship movement and asked whether other women felt awkward about being labeled “craftsmen.”
Some of our members were fine with it, while others said they felt alienated by the term. Beth explained that it was because of its usage in the movement—“master craftsman” is held up as an ideal that everyone should aspire to, but its male bias makes it difficult for some women to relate to it.
We discussed alternatives like craftsperson, crafter, and artisan. After a bit of brainstorming, Tess came up with “codesmith.” Many of us were excited about this term—it has a fun and geeky vibe that captures the enthusiasm we have about our work, while having the same emphasis on creation present in “craftsman.” While it’s certainly based on words like blacksmith, I like to think of it as more similar to wordsmith—a person who is skilled at using language to make something great.
As the sort of programmers who get into debates over small differences in syntax and rack our brains to come up with the most appropriate name for some variable, we know language is important. It’s a shortcut for identifying something, but over time it can create expectations and beliefs. Making changes to language can be difficult, but in the case of being inclusive to women in a women-starved field, I think it’s worth it.