Shawn Wildermuth

SE Radio 443: Shawn Wildermuth on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Shawn Wildermuth of The Hello World film discusses diversity and inclusivity in software development. Host Felienne  spoke with Wildermuth about why diversity matters to make better software, and how teams can create a culture in which more people feel welcome and safe. They also discuss how to do code reviews, feedback sessions and job interviews in such a way that diversity is fostered.

This episode sponsored by BMC Software.

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Transcript brought to you by IEEE Software
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Felienne 00:00:49 Hello everyone. This is Felienne for Software Engineering Radio. Today with me on the show, Shawn Wildermuth. He has been tinkering with computers since he got a Vic 20 back in the early eighties. Shawn has been a Microsoft MVP since 2003, and he’s the author of over 20 Pluralsight courses and eight books. He’s an international conference speaker, and he’s recently released his first feature-length film, “Hello World,” the film, a documentary about software developers today. Welcome to the show, Shawn. I’m really excited to meet you.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:01:21 Thank you. How are you doing today?

Felienne 00:01:23 I’m fine. Really excited to talk about your film because that is going to be the episode of today’s show. As I said, you just released a film called “Hello World,” which shines a light on the history of programming and how it became a majority white male-dominated industry. What made you want to make this movie? Why is such a movie needed?

Shawn Wildermuth 00:01:45 Well, it’s interesting. II didn’t mean to make this movie. I sort of accidentally made it. What I mean by that is I started to make a movie that I wanted to be sort of a love letter to the industry. And what ended up coming out of that was that I realized that most of the people I was interviewing were just, just looked like me. They were, you know, Western Europe, as well as North American. They were white, straight, you know, all the different identifiers you can think of. And I realized that I hadn’t noticed that there was a lack of diversity. It wasn’t just that I knew about it and wasn’t doing anything about it, but it didn’t even occur to me to notice. I’d just gotten used to it being a boys club.

Felienne 00:02:32 That’s, that’s so interesting that it took you that movie to realize that formally. My perspective, being a woman in computing was a bit different; it stood out to me a bit earlier in my life. Then the question of course is like, why does that matter? Why is it important to shed a light on who’s in computing?

Shawn Wildermuth 00:02:55 Well, I think it’s been interesting that we have lack of diversity and we have a lack of understanding about different groups when we’re building software. This ends up happening a lot. You know, facial recognition typically hasn’t worked well with, with people of color, because a lot of times there weren’t people on those teams, the people who developed airbags had never tested them on women. So early on, a lot of women were getting hurt when they were getting in an accident being hurt by the airbag itself. So we have a lot of ways that I think we can improve software development by embracing the ideas around inclusion and diversity. Certainly there’s a, the right thing to do and social justice reasons for increasing diversity. But I think we can also focus on the fact that when we’re writing software, if we’re in a bubble of what we think is the right thing to do, we’re not going to be writing software that’s as good as if we had people from different backgrounds.

Felienne 00:03:57 Yeah. We actually did an episode on that for people interested to know more about gender and programming design, you know, in Episode 380 on GenderMag, we interviewed professor Burnett and she said something similar to you that, for example, the idea that people don’t read the manual, that’s a very male idea because female computer users are way more likely to actually read the manual because they are more worried about getting it wrong. So they want to read up more. So it user interface for women users might look really different for male users and people, as you say, just has, haven’t really thought about that because the teams are mainly male and they’re like, Oh, you know, we don’t need a manual because who’s going to read it. Well, it turns out women are way more likely to actually read it. Yeah.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:04:41 And in the U.S. it’s not just the lack of women in software, it’s also the lack of minorities. So American black developers and Latinx developers in the U.S. and in Canada really are way less represented than even women are. Uh, in this, in the United States, black developers make up about four and a half percent and Latinx developers make them about five and a half percent of the total number of developers. And that just doesn’t, that doesn’t make any sense when the percentages, at least in the United States are much higher than that just of the general population.

Felienne 00:05:16 And do we understand why that is both for women and also for black and Latinx people? Why don’t they pursue careers in software? Well, there’s,

Shawn Wildermuth 00:05:26 There’s different reasons for different groups. It’s not one simple problem. Women were the first software developers. And so it used to be very dominated by women. In fact, the first eight software developers that actually worked on hardware, you know, talking about Ada Lovelace time, but in the forties, in the United States, they were all women because software was thought of as, as sort of a, um, something a secretary should do that the, the men were going to go ahead and create the hardware and the software wasn’t that important. They didn’t really, they sort of didn’t think it was going to be as important as it was. And, you know, even in the 1960s, it was still considered a great career for women. Cosmopolitan magazine had a great article about it, you know? And so with women, it was a bit of a few things. Uh, we talked to the president of Harvey Mudd college in California, and she talked about that.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:06:23 It used to be that if you wanted to be in computers, or if you wanted to work with computers, you went to college to learn how to work with computers. And when personal computers started to come into the homes and the seventies and the 80s, and, and in the nineties, they generally were taken over by the boys because a lot of these computers also had computer games, which girls were less interested in. So by the time they got to college, they felt behind, even if they were trying to pursue it, like the boys had been programming and writing little things. So they understood sort of the basis of computers before they got there. And, and it meant retention at the, at the, at the college level was really difficult in the case of minority access. It really comes down to levels of prosperity.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:07:16 So the fact is that when I was a teenager in the eighties, I was very lucky to have a computer, but people that were black and Latinx, certainly when I was a kid, the chance of them having a computer, just because it was cost, prohibitive was really difficult. And then it became like they didn’t see themselves in that role because we’ve never really modeled black and Latinx people as developers. You don’t see them very often on TV. It’s usually someone that looks like me, you know, the comic book guy on the Simpsons for an example, like, that’s what we think of as what developers look like. And so it’s harder for women. And I think especially minorities to see themselves in the job to see how they would fit in.

Felienne 00:08:02 Yeah. So I think you were mentioning two important points there. One is for, for both groups, I get guests early access. If you’re a child having a computer, I’m being allowed to play with it and to explore it. And the other one is role models. Seeing people in the industry that look like you, that talk like you dress like you too, to see, Oh, this is something I could become in the future.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:08:24 Yeah. It, it’s interesting when one of the things I talk about in the movie is the effect of stereotypes. Like when we think of, of computer software in, in movies and TVs and those sorts of things, we get the same stereotype over and over again. And I don’t know whether you’ve seen Jurassic park, but in drastic park, there’s a, there’s a programmer that is central to that story. And so when you ask somebody that seen drastic park, what do you remember? The software guy, the tech in that movie, they go, Oh yeah, yeah. He’s the heavyset white guy. Right. And in that same scene, they pan over from Samuel L. Jackson, who is the head of it in dress apart. But no one remembers that because that doesn’t fit their stereotype, it doesn’t fit what they think a developer looks like.

Felienne 00:09:13 And that, that has a profound influence on people’s choices. And I also want to zoom into not just people choosing themselves, not to have a software career, but also the influence of society on that. Or maybe parents saying to girls or parents saying to, to their family members, Oh, this career isn’t for you or professors at a university. Um, like maybe this is a weird question, but who who’s full this, this is it the full of people? No. To choosing a career, or is it the fault of society pushing people out of the careers

Shawn Wildermuth 00:09:48 In the film? We don’t, I don’t have an answer. Like if I could solve this, I wanted to make a film. I would have went out and solved it. Right. It’s, it’s one of those situations where there, isn’t a simple answer. Some of it is the age old women are told they aren’t good at math and science. And so we’ve had trouble filling those STEM roles in general for years, some of it is that women pursued it. And then when they realized it was so male dominated and the, the unavoidable in some ways, sexism that comes with that, you know, the easier road often is to drop out when you’re in college or to change your career. Once you started getting into it. I mean, it, unfortunately, that’s a really common story. And the same thing happens with minorities where, you know, one of the people we enter, we interview in the film, you know, when he worked with a team and he would run a team and he would go to a client’s offices and talk to them, they would always defer to the white guy, assuming that they were in charge, right.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:10:48 They never, they expected that they weren’t part of that team. And so I think part of it is this changing our expectations of what it is. One of the troubles I’ve always had with software, you know, I’ve been in it for about 30 years. This is when I talk to people and want to encourage people to get into this career, because it, for some people, it can be like a generational generationally changing career. Like it can really change the, the trajectory of families and all of this. And what I hear from them, women, people of color, whatever the case may be is I couldn’t do that because I was never good at math. And I don’t think that math is that required for computer science, like the computers do most, most of the math for us. And so I want to sort of lower the bar of what we think of as, and promote as what computer science is, right. It’s, it’s effectively problem-solving that happens to be solved with typing, right. You know, we’re not building rockets, we’re not designing 3d engines. Like 90% of all software that’s written doesn’t require, you know, you didn’t know how to do matrix math or calculus.

Felienne 00:11:57 Yeah. And this is a really great point. There was actually a recent nature paper that said that your ability to learn a second natural language is more predictable, predictive for your ability to learn a programming language, then math ability. And I think there’s a little to it that it’s not just that we equate programming a math skills. It’s also, what do we believe about math skills is typically that you have to be born with right. You have to be warned with the matching, whereas for natural language, it is way more of that. If you put some effort in, you can learn a bit of German or Spanish. So I think that’s also something we know for women, um, that if they know that with a little bit, bit of effort, they can get better at, and they will put in the effort, but if it’s like, Oh, you have to be born for it, then women, as you already pointed out, just think, Oh, you know, I’m no born for it. So why spend the effort? Because I’m not going to get good at it anyway, because I don’t have like the math gene.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:12:49 Yeah. It’s very interesting to me, this whole notion of like the math and the math gene and all that, because I think we, we learn later in our life, just how unimportant a lot of this ends up being like that. We, as people are good at a lot of different things and maybe not everything. And that software has expanded when I started, like I would design all the UIs, I’m comfortable sitting at a keyboard and typing. And so that’s what all the apps I wrote looked like, but the users we used to sort of, you know, shoe horn or, orum, um, forced the users into acting like people that were comfortable with computers. It’s only in the last, maybe 15 years that we really went, Oh, you know, what, if they were easier to use, we wouldn’t have to train them as much.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:13:37 They would like using the software. They wouldn’t be afraid of it. Like all of these things that in, in some ways, these other groups are, are better than, you know, than you know, technophiles just in the, you know, in their parents’ basement as the stereotype goes, right. It’s we can make better informed, you know, sort of decisions about software because we’re seeing other perspectives and we’re, and we’re admitting that we’re not the best at every sandwich, which I think is, is part of this that, you know, keeping people out was like, well, software has to look like this because that’s the only way that we ever use software.

Felienne 00:14:17 Yeah. This is of course, an argument that people make for more diverse teams is that more diverse teams also have the ability to improve the product because you get these different perspectives. And do you think that’s also a, an important reason, like you said, they’re social justice reasons why you want to bring people to programming. It’s a great career, so that’s a reason, but there might also be this reason that more diverse teams just seem to build better things.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:14:43 Absolutely. Yeah. You know, and it’s not just diversity in the, you know, in the sense of, Oh, we need to bring this many women in and we need to bring this many people. It’s more intersectionality is as Scott Hanselman likes to talk about. And that is like, if you’re building medical software, do you have people on your team that have medical problems? Are you building a software for the military? Do you have anyone on your team that has been in the military before, like that understands and has the exposure that isn’t the same story, you know, one of the things that happens here in the States, not as much I think where you’re at, but in the States, when you’re developing something often teams won’t, especially web products, they won’t necessarily test them against low bandwidth internet users because of course, every developer has what, one gigabit to their house and all of that, Oh, this works fine on my machine, in the office. And it’s going to work fine when I’m home or on my 5g phone. But if you’re going after users that don’t have that, you know, that don’t have the affluence that usually comes with being a software developer. We, I want us to open up our minds about that a little bit and realize that we’re not nearly all the same as we want to be.

Felienne 00:15:59 Yeah. That’s a great point. I want to talk a little bit more about the leaky pipeline. Like, why are we losing people? So the one point is we don’t get people into computer science programs. We don’t get them into bootcamps, but then another reason is they drop out minorities. And you already mentioned that sometimes minorities drop out because they aren’t seen as playing the part. They don’t look like the manager or they don’t look like the team lead, but what do you think are some other reasons that people drop out of the field and, and also what can we do to stop that?

Shawn Wildermuth 00:16:32 Well, you know, it was difficult for the film finding a lot of, especially women to talk about it on camera, because they, you know, they didn’t want to be, many of them didn’t want to be labeled as difficult or, or, you know, hurt their career by talking about the fact that there is real sexism in software. There’s no way to get around it. And when you have people that in the software industry, even people of color or women, we kind of expect them to act like white guys. And what I mean by that is it’s very male to sort of talk about your ideas, proselytize or push them really hard, be the loud person that runs every meeting – like, that alpha personality is somewhat expected, and those softer voices in the room, whether they’re women or even white guys that don’t have that, they tend to struggle more because we have this expectation of what, of how we act.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:17:30 And I think this is what lends that to it. You know, it’s part of it that like, Oh, I don’t fit in here or I’m not respected, but I don’t want to ignore the fact that there’s also having to deal with just the sexism of, of not being considered strong, but also, you know, straight up over a sexism of why are you here? This is a boys club, you know? Um, why do you wear skirts more when you smile more? Like all of that stuff that we know happens in all industries. Like, I’m not saying that software is worse than X, Y, or Z. And I think some people have sort of come at me like, why are you saying bad things about the software industry? I think it’s wrong everywhere, but this is my industry. And so that’s why I care about it here. Right? This is, this is where I live.

Felienne 00:18:17 Yeah. I do think there are indeed two sides to it. You have this general sexism of women being naughtiness areas and also general racism of nonwhite people being seen as less of leaders and just not fitting the bar, playing the role. Um, but then also so far has this other image of being very geeky. I’ve been to offices of software companies who are, you know, there are Mario walls and star Wars and this in all projects, this idea of look, this is what you shoot like where I think if you go to a law firm, I think you will be less likely to see star Trek posters on the wall or, or anything that really projects. So clearly what your what’s your shoot like, what you should be interested in. So I think that specific part of in programming are our hobbies and our personalities being so tied to your job. It’s also adding to, to the issues that we have, our, our industry seems to be built to a certain extent on this, on this geek image. And, and I’m really wondering about your perspective of like, can this be changed, shoot, this be changed, shoot all programmers, like geeky stuff. I don’t, I don’t know. What is your take on that?

Shawn Wildermuth 00:19:33 You know, I don’t think, I don’t think it’s a requirement. I think that that is part of the, you know, we w in the last 10 or 15 years when I was more into hiring than I am these days I noticed that there was a lot of push for do they fit in, and, and that was sort of code for, do they look and act like we do? Are they going to be interested in the same things when we go to lunch with them? Are they going to talk about the next, you know, Avengers movie? And, and, and that is, I think that continues to be just a natural barrier to you know, being, um, accepting of different sorts of people that are going to benefit your team and, and being comfortable with people that, you know, don’t look like you don’t act like you don’t, aren’t attracted to the same sort of people you are.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:20:20 I mean, like, it really comes down to this sort of literal illness. And if it were only over, like there is over racism and sexism and we should get rid of it everywhere. But I think the real problem we have in software isn’t that over it’s the, um, implicit bias, the bias that we don’t think is really bias, you know, when I go to a conference and I see a woman, do I think she’s a recruiter? Or do I think she’s a, now my first instinct is probably wrong, but I can make a decision to make it different. And that, you know, that’s one of the things that I’m hoping to sort of encourage is to people to just reconsider what, what, you know, what they’re thinking, because I don’t think everyone needs to be that way. I hid for many, many years, the dark deep, deep secrets that I don’t like comic book.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:21:09 And I don’t like star Trek. Right. Like, and I, you know, I it’s like I’m out of central casting in Hollywood. I look like, I should love those things. Anime can’t stand it. Like, I should like all that stuff because, you know, I sort of fit the bill, but I don’t, I really don’t. I don’t like Buffy, you know, continue like a bunch of stuff that like, I don’t understand it and that’s fine. And I would sort of like I wanted to fit in peer pressure and all that, and I would go, Oh yeah. But when I was less confident, that’s sort of a thing that I felt like I had to do to fit in. And, and that happens all over the place. When I moved to Boston, I realized that when I met people outside of the it department, that I didn’t know how to talk to them.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:22:00 And so I started listening, listening to sports radio so that I could at least say, Oh, did you hear about sports team last night winning? Right. Even though I didn’t really care, but it was something that I could just, again, fit in. And I don’t think that’s healthy in the long run. There are things that I love and I’m passionate about and I’m geeky about. And there are some things that I’m not, and I think that tends to, tends to push people out because they’re like, Oh, what if I like want to go home at the end of the day without thinking about software? What if I don’t really feel like the only thing that I can talk to people like after work, when we go to grab a drink is, you know, what the newspaper library is like, please don’t ever talk to me about what the next tech thing is when we’re trying to relax. Tell me about who you are and the things you like to do. And like, you’re more interesting than that. I know that you don’t have to pretend to.

Felienne 00:22:58 Yeah. I think that’s actually also a big part of the stereotype of programming is that it shouldn’t be your only hobby or one of the things that are accessible, like movies and comic books and stuff like that with all the other hobbies are, are, are most accepted. So I think many people are like, you probably sort of pretended to like some things that they didn’t like. And I think the reverse is also true. If I look at my own career, like, I really like knitting, which is a really female hobby. And when I was in grad school, I was like one of the few grad students. And so for engineering, like I didn’t do any missing and I didn’t talk about missing at all. And I think a part of that was because clearly that wasn’t the hobby that fits what my job was and that fit what everyone else was doing.

Felienne 00:23:45 So I sort of know did it, and then of course after awhile, it just, it’s not sustainable. Like you’re, you’re you not liking Buffy. It’s just not sustainable after a while. You’re just like, well, I’m grown up. I will just tell people what I like and what I do, but it’s actually really hard. And I want to talk a little bit more about how we can change that. So maybe people are not listening to the show and they’re like, Oh, our office has billiards tables and Star Trek posters and freebie years. And all the stuff that, you know, might attract white males and might be less interesting to other people. But how do you go about changing that? Um, in feminist theory, you have this idea of a kill joy, which is a person that points out these issues. And therefore isn’t really liked, right? If you are a female developer or you’re a black developer, and you’re like, you know, why are you giving up free beers? I would be more interested in, you know, free lines or whatever, some, something their friends, or I don’t want to have star Trek posters. I want to have a knitting workshop as a, as a team outing. How do you start that conversation? How do you, how do you do it as while also retaining your position of being in the in-crowd? It’s a really difficult balance.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:25:01 It’s hugely difficult because I, you know, the, the archetype of, of the killjoy is real. And a lot of people are like, Oh, I don’t want to be that person. I don’t, you know, I don’t have you know, one, I don’t have an answer. I would love to have an answer, but I know for me that what I’ve encouraged people that I’ve mentored is to just be honest. You know, there’s a story I tell, I worked at a company and every day we would all go out down to downstairs and have lunch together. And it was a time we talked about mostly tech things, but it was a good way for us to sort of bond with you know, a bunch of East Asian and American guide developers. Like it was sort of what you think of when you see the billiard balls and all that.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:25:47 And I had started a change in the way I ate. And so I started bringing my lunch instead of buying it downstairs. And I just felt weird about it. And like, I’m gonna miss this thing and all of this. And you know what, no one even noticed that I wasn’t eating food, bought at whatever restaurant everybody bought. I was so concerned with what I thought they thought of me that when I started to just go, you know what, this is who I am. And in the first five or 10 years of most people’s software career, they spend it in this being afraid of getting found out that this, this need, this peer pressure to fit in is so important. And, you know, when I started talking about things that I actually cared about, that I thought were interesting, that weren’t the things that everyone else was talking about.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:26:39 Everyone started to bring up the things that they really, you know, and it, it sort of opened that up. You know, one of the other guys liked to fly airplanes and another guy, you know, wanted to do this or that. And I think that starts the opening of what is acceptable. And then we can go, you know what, even though it looks like we’re all the same, we’re not. And if that’s the case, why are we keeping people that we don’t think fit into this image that none of us really fulfill? Why are we keeping them out in general? So it’s not about tearing down the Mario posters. I think it’s more about, you know, our personal ability to be honest with each other and not worry and not worry as much about, you know, being ridiculed or, or not fitting in.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:27:31 And this, this, this mirrors the same problem I see with like sexism in the workplace, we did a fairly small survey, but a survey nonetheless, where we wanted to ask people about a bunch of things that ended up sort of shaping the way the movie went. And one of them was, have you ever witnessed sexual harassment or sexism in the workplace? Like, not that you’d personally done it, but did you witness it? And the numbers were astonishingly high. And that told me something that told me that there are people, and I’ve certainly been guilty of this in the past. And hopefully I won’t be guilty of that in the future that see it happening and are afraid to speak up because I don’t know whether we can curse on here or not, but frankly, being able to go, Bob you’re fullest, leave her alone, or that, what the hell are you bringing in here is that is the beginning of fighting sexism, not, not having an, you know, a human resources meeting that human resources meeting, isn’t going to change it. But when we hold each other accountable, I think, I think that’s where it starts.

Felienne 00:28:40 Yeah. And I think that’s definitely also true. I mean, for, for bulb clearly harassing someone, but also the smaller things. Whereas, you know, sometimes a female team member, my proposal idea, and then she isn’t listened to, and then a male team member sort of rephrases the same thing as, as sometimes women like to say in a lower voice, just the same idea, rephrase. And then all of a sudden people are listening. And there’s also these tiny ideas where someone in the meeting could say, Hey, I think that that’s what Stephanie just said. Right? And then the ball back to her that also is sexism that bystanders can really counter or help relieve that. At least it’s nice to know that someone also noticed this and that you can change culture like this. So it isn’t just about, um, overt harassment. It’s also about these tiny like motions of Oh, her idea. And so Syria is, or, or she isn’t so devoted to the company or whatever things that aren’t really true, but are just someone’s views. Yeah.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:29:47 And w what happens is even if you, even, if you just view it through the prism of white male developers, there’s a percentage of those developers who aren’t, they, aren’t the kind of, they aren’t extroverts that want to be in the front of the meeting and putting ideas out. And we’re losing their perspective because the only people were listening to male, female, black, white, East Asian, whatever are the people that are willing to just be loud in the beginning of the meeting and telling people to sit down and listen to everybody or to get that feedback is part of that. And that, that to me solves the problem that, or hopefully the problem of let’s get all those voices heard, you know, we, we, aren’t just getting diversity so that we can say that our head count, we have diversity. We want to have diversity of ideas, not just people.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:30:43 And part of that is like, you know, the quietest voice in the room is often the one that has the best idea, but if they never can speak up, because you know, the alpha developer over there who wants everyone to know how wonderful he is never shuts up, you know what I mean? I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s difficult. And, you know, unfortunately I’ve been that guy before and I was that guy when myself-confidence was at its lowest like that. That’s how I knew I there’s this notion I have that arrogance and software development is almost always, really about self-confidence lack of, self-confidence like, if I, if I puff my chest up a bit, no one will know how weak I am. And, and that hurts people who are trying to just be real when all you hear is just the, you know, the puffed up chest over and over and over again, you know, I would love to be able to take those people aside and say, we know you’re good at what you do. You have to, you don’t have to prove it to us anymore. You know what I mean?

Felienne 00:31:50 Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And this actually segues nicely into the topic. I want to talk about more in the rest of the episode, because so far we talked about the industry as a whole, and now we’re moving a little bit towards a team culture within a company. So we were already talking about issues within a team, a person, and that might be, um, a straight white male is maybe more likely to play the role of the leader. The ideas guy always, um, dominate a meeting, suppose you have a team in which nonwhite males also participate. What do we do? Like how do you change that team dynamic? How do you change meetings? What do we concretely do to make this culture within companies, within teams, more inclusive you, I think it’s difficult.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:32:40 I think we’re so focused on the team lead idea instead of, of us being more of what I think teams usually really are, which is a group of people. So one of the things I, I found out while making the film that was, it’s sort of meta in this way, is that when I started making the movie, I realized what I wasn’t good at. Like, there’s a bunch of stuff about making a movie that I’m not good at. And so I had to go find people that were, that I could team up with that were interested in what I was doing. And I realized if this is exactly what should be happening in software, like finding the people that are good at what and passionate about the things that they’re good at putting together a team of all, you know, super loud, alpha developers, we already know doesn’t work, right?

Shawn Wildermuth 00:33:31 You need to have people across the spectrum that are that care about different things. If you, even, if you look at it in sort of the microcosm of a team, having someone that understands and is good with the back end versus the front end, or that understands the data stores versus, you know, the JavaScript or whatever the case may be finding that team. But instead of just thinking about it, a skills, but thinking about it as the interactions, you know, when it, when a meeting starts there, shouldn’t be a leader to a meeting, you should be all coming together and trying to come up with ideas together without someone having to be, you know, the leader, you know, in uh, I don’t know how it works in football admittedly, because I don’t I tried watching it when I lived in Amsterdam for a while, and I just don’t understand it.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:34:22 But in, in most sports teams, there might be a leader, but their job isn’t to tell everyone how to do everything. And that’s what happens in software is like, Oh, just, just move over. I know what I’m doing. Clearly you don’t, there’s this whole, I there’s this whole mentality of I’m the only one that can do it. Right. And I’m only doing, letting you do part of it because I don’t have the time to write at all. And I think we have to get away from that. We’re all good and bad at, at different things in software, outside of software, whatever the case may be and embracing that, instead of trying to pretend that you’re great at everything, you know, it’s just, I think it’s, I think it’s causing our teams to be toxic.

Felienne 00:35:10 Yeah. So that sounds like a great idea. You know, having more, a flat team without a leader, having meetings without a leader, and maybe some of our listeners are like, yeah, I would like that. But how do you have any like, concrete tips on how to get to that culture? I really already liked your idea of sitting down and talking about personalities and interests to just get to know each other better. But then I guess you’re not immediately at a situation where you are leader free and everyone’s voice is equally heard how to do that.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:35:43 Well, again, I don’t know that I have a concrete solution for it. I will tell you that what I did when I was leading teams was my, my role was mentor, not a general, like that’s the way I tried to view my job. I wanted to make everyone successful. And that often meant helping them when they wanted help and not helping them. When I thought they needed help. Like, there’s this, this idea of you know, letting them fail on their own place. If we, if I think leaders sometimes want to protect anyone from having any sense of failure that they swoop in and don’t let them fail and learn from those failures, like, cause failure to me is just, is how you learn. I don’t learn until I, I don’t learn that the stove is hot until I put my hand on there a couple of times, and I’ll never learn if someone doesn’t let me do it.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:36:40 And, and so I’m not suggesting that it needs to be a completely flat structure, but that we think about the team lead in a different way. In some organizations, some organizations that they just want to take their most productive developers and make them the leader that doesn’t always work. You need someone that really wants to have the success and has the soft skills to allow them to do that. That, that aren’t going to be, Oh my God, this guy that works under me is really good. He’s going to want my job. Great. Do you want this job forever? Like it’s, it’s never made a lot of sense to me. Um, so I wish I had a magic bullet. I think at the end of the day, that my goal is for people to be thinking about that they don’t need to wear a mask at work.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:37:32 You spend so much time at work that I want to be true with these people and trust them as much as possible. The only places where I was most successful in my job is when I was at companies that trusted me. So when I go to places and they’re like, no, I don’t have admin access to my own machine. And I can’t make that decision. And, you know, whatever the case may be, I’m like, they’re just setting you up for failure. I, if, if I don’t trust you to do the work that I want you to do, why are you still here? Like, if I have lost faith in you, you should go find another job is kind of my mentality. But if that’s not the case, then I need to trust you. And, um, and that, that comes with within a team of just going, I’m just going to put it out there.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:38:23 This is, you know, you know, whether it’s as simple as I don’t like Buffy the vampire or it’s as complex as, you know what, I don’t agree with our position, but everyone else thinks this the right way to go. And I’m on board and I’m not going to come back and tell you, you know, I told you it was going to be wrong. If it fails, I was heard and that’s all I can expect. You know what I mean? And by having that, I think more people are going to be willing to, to be open and share. I just want, you know, it may be Pollyanna to think that we can just not be playing games when we go to work and try to, you know, create this careers that we go on this magic career path that we think we’re going to be on. That is never correct. That, you know, that invariably we, we, we diverge from, and by doing that, I think we get these added bonuses of like, of course we want people that don’t look like us and don’t sound like us and don’t think like us on the team. Cause that’s how the, that’s how we can succeed more as a group and as a company and as an organization or whatever the, you know, the organizational unit is you’re working in,

Felienne 00:40:00 So what do you think is key to creating trust? What I think you just said was what, the thing that is really important is everyone should feel like their hurts, like their voices are being heard or that they’re being taken seriously. And that seems to me definitely to be an ingredient in creating trust in a team and trust in a company. But yeah, you might not have all the answers, but what is your experience? Maybe you can give an example of a team in which there wasn’t so much trust and you or someone else did something to create more trust.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:40:32 You know, one of the things that I’ve learned early on that I’ve tried to, you know, I’ve tried to encourage people, is that trust is a two-way street. And what I mean by that is you, yes, you want to be heard, you want to have your opinions, but when I trust you with what I think is the wrong or right thing to do, it also means that if, if we don’t agree on what we’re going to do, that you’re not just gonna abandon ship. And so a lot of times what happens in these cases is yeah, you were heard and as a team or as a group, we’ve decided to go another way I, you sabotaging is not trusting, like accepting that the group dynamic is that we’re going to try to come to the right thing. And that will pivot if we’re wrong.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:41:23 Like I’ve, I’ve one of the ideas that I know doesn’t work for everybody. I wish it did, but that I’ve sort of modeled my life around is I’d make a wrong decision than not make a decision. So I’d love to make a right decision, but I’d rather make a decision and it be wrong than be stuck, not making a decision to have one more meeting. Let’s discuss it one more time and we’ll, everyone will finally agree on what we’re doing now. That’s not how, that’s not how the world works. Sometimes you just have to barrel ahead, get your knee scuffed and realize that you have to change course and there’s value in that knee getting scuffed. And I think the problem we have sometimes with trust is the, our leaders, the people running the teams, or more normally, you know, the people above them want the trust from the developers of the teams, but don’t want to give it like, Oh, I’m going to give you a date on, on releasing this, or I’m going to give you what we’re planning to do in this period of time.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:42:31 You have to trust. I’m going to get there and not come in and micromanage and, you know, bring up a Gantt chart every four days to see, are we there? Were you there? We there. And that’s, and that’s tough because, you know, I think a lot of people are worried about the trajectory of their career or keeping their job or whatever the case may be. And that trust is hard earned, but it’s one of those things I, you know, I think it’s very similar to being in a relationship if you don’t trust, which has risk associated with it. If you are willing to trust there’s risk associated to it, but the reward is also much higher. You can stay in a super safe place, but you’re, if you’re not going to take the risk of, of challenging yourself by trusting your company or opening up about what you like, and don’t like, or you know, that you really don’t want the window cube in your company or whatever the case may be, sometimes it’s gonna, it’s gonna feel bad.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:43:31 But ultimately I think that that risk is rewarded over the long term. On average, even though it’s going to feel bad sometimes if you’re going to try to protect yourself from ever feeling bad, we’re going to get to what we’ve got, which is a bunch of people just afraid to tell other people what they really think. And, and, and what that does in the case of software is it keeps people out that might be better at doing the things that we want to do, and that have different experiences that maybe we don’t understand. And that’s, you know, I think in that way, it’s tragic. Uh, you know, in the, in the film, I ultimately come to the conclusion that this industry isn’t as bad as I feared, but also isn’t as inclusive as I want. It’s somewhere in the middle in that the, I think the only way to fix this isn’t to have, you know, a conference where we all talk about it or that we count the number of, of women and people of color who speak at events. I don’t think that solves it. I think it becomes personally responsible for us to when we have that thought in the back of our head of like, they must not know what they’re doing, because they’re a woman or boy, I wonder where they’re from. They’re probably not a very good developer that you acknowledge it and go, I’m not going to act on it and I’m, I’m going to ignore it. And we’re going to act I’m my actions matter way more than, than my thoughts.

Felienne 00:45:00 Yeah. I think that’s a great point to make where many people, maybe all people have certain implicit biases. Like they need my thing if they’re at a conference. Oh, that woman, Oh, she’s probably in sales and it’s not terrible if you think that because you are the product of society, everyone is, but you don’t have to. Excellent. You can think, Hmm. Maybe that’s a little bit biased. And also maybe I don’t have to express my expectation. Maybe I can just read her name tag and see what Joel she actually has. So I think that’s the concrete point that people can do that you’re not a terrible person for having these biases. You’re not a terrible person for thinking that way. But think before you act, you, you don’t have to act.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:45:45 Yeah. I mean, as a, as a somewhat famous person just said, you know, if you really think you’re the least racist person in the room, you might not be, you know,

Felienne 00:45:59 I went to zoom in a little bit more on more specific situations in which team dynamics and power dynamics play a role. For example, many people are winning companies, of course knew all sorts of feedback sessions like for a promotion. Maybe your peers will have to give you feedback, or if you’re doing a code review in a team and you might be the, let’s say the sole female developer or the sole black developer, and you are giving feedback to, to an alpha male in the team, how do you go about giving that type of feedback? And, you know, you might say, Oh, he asked to create trust, but assume that some people in our audience are in such a team, they don’t immediately have the possibility to create trust. What do you do in such a situation? And maybe also, what can other people in a team do to support them?

Shawn Wildermuth 00:46:48 Well, it, it’s interesting that you mentioned code reviews because code reviews are sort of a, um, the place where I usually see when I’m brought into sort of review teams and such that you can tell whether a team is toxic or not. Because someone looking at my code is a really risky thing for me emotionally. Like it all the imposter syndrome stuff I have, which I haven’t really gotten rid of over the last 30 years. It still crops up when someone looks at my code, you know, my, my stomach tightens up and I’m worried. So I try to go into those situations going, I’m going to learn something here. And I learn that my code is fine. I might learn that I don’t agree with you about something, or I might learn that I can do something better. And when you’re the one giving the feedback, trying to do it without the notion of shame or blame like that, that’s where I see in, in sort of code reviews inside companies that sometimes becomes like the steel of either.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:47:55 No one is giving any of the real feedback because they’re afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings, or the reverse is where everyone’s just going in so that they can notch their belt with another I told them, and neither of those are healthy. Like you might think that the notch belt is the worst part of it. I actually think it’s the other where people are so afraid of what someone’s going to say about their code, that they don’t want to take that risk. And when you’re a woman or a person of color, when you’re a minority in the room, it becomes even more. So you’re afraid of what you know, of not fitting in or not, or, you know, becoming the target of the developer who likes to count the number of spaces and find out whether you put tabs in your, in your, in your code.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:48:44 Like, we all know that person and we need to sort of, as a team acknowledge what’s going on with them. You know, that confrontation, I think, is worth it. Even though in the moment, it feels awful on both sides, like having to have that talk feels as bad as having that talk, being given to you. Um, there wasI was working with Chris cells years ago and we were — it was a startup, and we were actually in an apartment. We weren’t even in an office yet. We were just in an apartment and there are two developers in each of the bedrooms. And I walked in one day and Chris said, we need to talk. I was like, okay. And as we went into his office, the guy that I shared my room with was already in there sitting.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:49:33 And I thought, Oh, this is going to be bad. This is going to be really bad. But them telling me what they didn’t like, which was I, I tend to curse and grunt when I’m coding, which I didn’t realize at the time, but it was really unnerving to my, my roommate was good. Cause it was like, Oh, okay, now that I have the information, I can do something with it. But until someone, you know, sorta confronts that moment, it comes back to that same thing of like, you know why don’t you sit down for a minute and let’s let Sheila talk. Like you don’t need to interrupt her anymore. You know, there, there are these soft skills about learning how to listen, learning how to speak to other people, learning how not to be too aggressive or too passive that everyone needs to learn.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:50:22 And so in those moments of whether you’re getting a review or other things, just honest with what you expect. Me and my wife have a sort of a system that works for us. We’re both a little touchy around our creative projects. And so when when I ask her to like proofread something of mine, I tell her pretty clearly what I want out of it. Like, do I want you to tell me how wonderful I am, which sometimes I do. Do I want you to tell me if there’s mistakes in it, or do I want you to really critique it? And so by giving them what, giving her what the expectation is and vice versa — she does the same thing with me — we know what this is expected because as a developer, I want to find a problem and solve it, even if none exists.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:51:11 And this happens a lot in these interactions, Oh, you want me to review my co-worker? Let me think of everything that could be a problem instead of going, you know, that those three problems that I might write down really don’t matter, like, in the big scheme of things. They’re awesome. And, and, you know, I’m worried about that. They throw in miss pieces of paper into their trash. Like, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t really affect me. And so, you know, some of that is just, you know, I don’t have the black and white answer, but empathy is good in our industry if we can find it.

Felienne 00:51:48 Yeah. And I actually think it’s excellent advice to clearly say what you expect in a code review. In Episode 400, we interviewed Dr. Micheila Greiler about specifically code reviews. And there, she also said the same, actually, I didn’t think of it when I was preparing the interview, but she also said, if you’re going to do a code review, you have to say, what do I want, do I want to know generally the idea of the code is like going in the right direction? Do I want to get feedback on how clean everything is? How well organized? Because at different stages in development, you might need to be looking for different types of feedback. So, I think that’s a concrete and good advice that doesn’t only apply to getting feedback from your spouse, but could also apply in a code review.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:52:32 And what’s interesting, there is there, I think it comes to developers too, or it’s important for developers to think about the difference between is this good code or versus is this how I would have done it? And that took me a long time to learn. Like, just because I wanted to approach this way, doesn’t mean it’s bad. And so I used to go into code reviews or look over a team members code and go, you know, I wanted to approach it this way. And so maybe I’m going to get them to fix it. Well, it didn’t need to be fixed. Do you know what I mean? It’s it was fine. It wasn’t the way I would have approached it, but that doesn’t make it worse or better and likely better. Right. I only have one perspective and me assuming that everyone that works with me should do it the same way is just as pejoratively bad.

Felienne 00:53:27 Yeah. And these are also things, of course, again, forming trust and creating a team that you can discuss beforehand. Yeah. So I suppose go to written in a certain style and you would like it to do it in a different style. You can have a meeting and discuss what style do we prefer as a team. Otherwise you get this back and forth like, Oh, you should do it this way. No, it shouldn’t be that way. Those are things also that can be decided independently of code.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:53:51 Yeah. It’s interesting. When I had a client recently who, he was like, should we go ahead and create like a, a code-tyle document for what we want it to look like? And I went, that is the worst idea ever. Like, you’re going to have a lot of meetings and it’s not going to change anything. The best, you know, when I was brought up, um, when I was growing up and I was learning to code, I was learning on Commodore 64s and Vic 20s, and didn’t know what I was doing. Like, I was just a kid. I wasn’t like I went to college before I started doing that. And so I got this a lot of really bad habits and people telling me I had a bad habit, never solved it. What solved it was, I worked for somebody who had code that was so beautiful that I wanted to emulate it. And so that’s another thing when I was running teams that I really, I always hoped for was that I was representing the example instead of trying to enforce the rules.

Felienne 00:54:51 Hmm. So then suppose you want to agree on the shirts on style would, you would say is some team members would just create code that they think is good and then new members fall into the code base and pick up the habits naturally.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:55:07 Yeah. And I would think that you, I will, I have told them before is, you know, there’s already code here. Just follow the same design. Like don’t, I don’t wanna have the conversation about four versus two spaces. I don’t want to have the discussion about a space before the parenthesis. Like, none of that is making our code better. It’s just, it’s just not. And so, especially if you’re editing someone else’s code, follow the style, and it’s interesting that open sources really pushed that on me. Like, I get into a project I’m like, Oh my God. I’m like, no, no, don’t fix any of that. None of that matters. You’re here to help do a pull request. They’ve got the style of the way they have their code. Just follow. It was no, you’re not going to make yourself feel better by putting in a pull request that is all just chaining tabs and spaces and formatting. And, you know, especially these days where the IDE can make it comfortable for you and then reformat it back to them. And like, I just don’t think it matters as long as it’s, it’s saying like, one of the places where I was talking to people about is like object and method and names are important where the parentheses are. Doesn’t like, sort of pick your battles.

Felienne 00:56:31 And do you think this is true for team leadership as well, where it’s less important to have clear documents of this is how we do projects and it’s more important to create a culture and to model the guy new behavior that you would also expect from your teammates.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:56:46 I think that’s the only way it’s ever worked for me. You know, having the employee guide a guide guidebook as we used to have when I was earlier in my career was just something to, to use as a weapon against the employees. And again, that goes against this idea of trusting the people that work with you. And so I also mean that when it comes down to it, I can’t take the shortcuts just because I’m the team lead or I’m the, you know, whatever the case may be as a consultant, I can’t do, especially can’t do it as a consultant because if they’re going to use code that I’m giving them as an exemplar to something else they’re doing, I can’t just go, well, you’re paying me by the hour. So I’m going to take these shortcuts. It’s if you can’t represent the example, why are you leading these people?

Felienne 00:57:37 There’s one more topic I want to talk about in this episode and that’s mob interviews. So in job interviews there, of course also inclusivity and diversity plays a role because some people might show up to a job interview, not looking like a developer, and also at the more content level. Um, we have this culture of job interviews that we talked about in episode four 12, where, you know, these whiteboard algorithm interviews that certain people might have more exposure to. If they go to a computer science program, for example, where they’re really prepared for these type of interviews, people with a different background might not have access to the information needed for these job interviews. How do you deal with that? And you want to get people in, but also we talked about that before you have this idea of culture fit. And sometimes I hear, I have heard from women that they’re rejected from a job interview.

Felienne 00:58:28 And then the interviewer says, well, we don’t think you’ll be happy here. And then even names a few weeks, like, yeah. And, you know, I think there were rights. I wouldn’t be happy there, but isn’t, isn’t that a problem. If a qualified person that fits the job is rejected for probably not being happy. And then who has this issue, there might be lots of people in our audience that do job interviews, what can they do to, to get the right people in and then maybe also to retain them later on, but specifically how to, out to get them in.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:59:01 I think we have to think about developers in a different way than we do. You know, the whole of a linked list whiteboard thing is I don’t think is useful. Um, but also the, you know, how many, um, hubcaps are there in London problem that is also a sort of interview question that happens because what it comes down to to me, when I have hired people is I am not looking for people with a specific skill or a specific mindset. I’m looking for somebody that can problem solve. Because to me there’s really two main jobs that developers do. One is learn, and one is solve problems. Like those are the two things. So whether you like I’ve been asked some insane questions of like, in the seashore, perspec, what should you, blah, blah, blah. I went, yeah, I don’t know. I would look it up.

Shawn Wildermuth 00:59:54 Like, I don’t know. And that’s, that’s fine. Interestingly, I had taken an approach with software interviews because I knew the things I didn’t want and it wasn’t again about skill. It was often about soft skills. So one of the things I would do in interviews was try to get the person I was interviewing to say, I don’t know, because it feels so epidemic that people are like, I’m supposed to know everything. And part of what I need from you is to go, I don’t know, but let’s find out. I don’t know. Early in my career, I had an opportunity to go work with some pretty big names in software, and I just felt overwhelmed by it. And when we started working together, that was one of the things I would ask them about something that like was in a book they wrote and they went, I don’t know, let’s find out.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:00:45 I was like, wait, wait, wait, you don’t know. And that’s okay. Like, it took that for me to sort of get that message out of like, Oh, okay, the guy — I say “guy,” there I go using my sexism — but the person that I want working in my company is not the person that’s going to pretend that they know everything. That’s toxic. That’s scary because you don’t bluff me. Just be, again, be honest. And, and that way I can trust you if you’re like, Oh, I don’t know why that’s happening. I’ll find out for you or let’s dig in, or let’s, you know, dive into the code and debug and see what’s going on instead of this, this, this pretending. And you know, one of the things that baffles me in Europe is that the European CVS often will have the photograph of the person they’re interviewing.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:01:39 And in the States, it’s actually illegal. It’s part of our anti-discrimination laws, which I’m not sure are doing very good. But so the first time I saw a European CV with a picture on it, I was like, what? Because there is this, in the U.S. there’s this hiring bias that happens because they don’t have a white enough name or that their name is a woman’s name, like where it doesn’t even get to the interview. And that’s tragic to me. It was like, really, are you really going to go by this? Because they sound like they’re from the Caribbean or because it’s a woman and you expect the only person that can do database design is a guy? Like, there’s no great way to do that because I don’t always think that’s a problem with them going, I think a man is better for this, but instead going, Oh, this sounds like somebody that, you know, would do this, or what do you mean there’s flowers on your resume? I want it to be taken seriously. Well, come on. It’s their resume. It can look any way they want it. It’s sort of my stance on it. I think the whole way we hire is broken.

Felienne 01:02:50 And I really liked that idea of yours where you say, I want people to say, I don’t know, in a job interview, because that tells me a lot. How do you then in that small space of an interview, that’s maybe maybe an hour, how do you then create the culture? Because people might be really reluctant to say, I don’t know, because they’re like, Oh, I’m failing the interview because I don’t know an answer. Do you explicitly tell people this is a question and if you don’t know, just tell me you don’t know. That’s okay. Or do you look for people who are already comfortable saying they don’t know? I think it’s great advice, but I wouldn’t know how to act on it being an interviewer.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:03:26 Yeah, it’s difficult because some of it is about how you come across. And I think a lot of, lot of people that do interviews think of it as somewhat adversarial. And, and I think that’s part of the problem. One of the things that I have talked to a lot of people about is when they’re interviewing sort of being on the other side is a dunk go into an interview, hoping you get the job, hope you can get out of the interview, finding out if you want the job. And, and it’s the same on the other side is let’s figure out whether this is the right person, but we also want them to succeed. We want to hire somebody and worst case. If they don’t work out, there are remedies for that, that aren’t terribly difficult to deal with. And so I think this idea that like the interview is this Rite of passage and this, you know, having to scale the, the castle walls to get in is part of the problem is it is we were hiring people that are good at interviewing, not hiring people that are good at software.

Felienne 01:04:34 Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s very true. And as I said, episode four 12 talks a little bit more about job interviews, also how to run them. But I think this angle of trust and making people feel included really, really adds something where I like your remark of saying, we also want them to be successful because we want to hire someone it’s not an exam or they fail it’s you want to find out if it’s a fit,

Shawn Wildermuth 01:04:59 Especially in the, where we’re at. We’re literally having a hard time finding you know, software developers in the U.S. I often talk about it as negative unemployment, right? There are more jobs that haven’t been filled than we have people to fill them. And so why are we being so worried and adversarial about hiring, about doing interviews, if like we need the people, you know what I mean?

Felienne 01:05:26 Yeah. And the same is true, of course, for the leaky pipeline and not getting enough people in where everyone’s like, Oh, I’m looking for developers, but yeah. You know, we, we, dis-encouraged women and people of color and many different ways. And, and also we are struggling to find people that just doesn’t seem too smart.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:05:43 One of the people we talked about we’ll talk to the Chancellor of UC Davis in California, he was talking about if we could encourage the black community in the United States to become software developers or being it in general, that in the United States, before COVID we had about three, three and a half million unemployed, and we had about 3 million unfilled IT jobs. Yeah. Right. What we’re missing something like we’re missing an important piece in the middle. We’ve got empty seats and people, but we don’t have a good way to, to fill them because I think, I think it becomes this thing where we’re like, we’re so worried about finding the right person that we’re missing the people that don’t interview well or who are soft-spoken or, you know, whatever the case may be, or that they’re in many cases. I know I said this before, but I really want to reiterate it that we’re not even less letting them interview. Like we see you know, Oh, it’s a 22 year old woman. How is she going to know how to do this tech thing? You know, she’s not even going to know how to wear khakis and, and uh, grow, you know, grow a neck beard. How’s she gonna fit in?

Felienne 01:07:00 Yeah. And also I think to a certain extent that we also miss out on people that have Prudential and that could learn a lot because teams might not be good at teaching so much. So they might not know how to deal with someone who clearly for jumper was very skilled in a different programming language, but Northern dish programming language. And they’re really like, but how we would teach them JavaScript if they’re coming for sheet from CE or something. And that’s still necessarily about the candidate, because from these not that hard to pick up a new programming language, but it’s also about the team not knowing how to effectively onboard people.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:07:38 I also think culturally, we need to teach developers, especially in colleges that, well, the language you’re working on here rarely is going to be the last language you develop. And, you know, in the United States, there’s a NASA is trying to hire four trend developers because they’re all dead or retired. Like they still have code that’s running on that. And I don’t think that’s happening much anymore. I’m hoping that, you know, in 20 years I won’t someone won’t come find me because they still are running Silverlight right. Hopefully that isn’t anymore.

Felienne 01:08:17 I think that’s a great way actually, to close the interview, we’ve talked about how big the problem is. And you’ve given many solutions that people that are interested in could apply to make their teams more trustworthy and more inclusive so that hopefully we can be a more inclusive industry. And of course, if people want to know more, they can watch your movie. Where can we find your movie?

Shawn Wildermuth 01:08:40 Well, that’s a interesting question. So you can view the trailer and visit the movie website at Hopefully pretty easy to spell there: And, um, you’re able to pre-order it today in North America. We’re working on international distribution right now, and I’m hoping we’ll have something to share first of the year, but we’re planning on coming to a bunch of countries. Some of them have different requirements for us translating them. For example, the Netherlands requires us to have subtitles. And so we’re working on some of those things.

Felienne 01:09:18 Okay. So we just have to keep an eye on the website then.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:09:21 Yeah. There’s a newsletter you can sign up to. We don’t, don’t send many emails, but we, every time we have an announcement about a new place that it’s released, that’s the best way, or follow me on Twitter @ShawnWildermuth ‘cause I, as most of my followers know, I’m not sick of talking about it yet.

Felienne 01:09:39 Okay. We’ll be sure to add links in the show notes to the film, to the newsletter, and to your Twitter account. Anything else, any other places we can find you on the web?

Shawn Wildermuth 01:09:49 I’m still writing and recording courses for them. I’m working on one on a view forms right now that I’m really excited about. So yeah, that’s always a good place to find me. \I’ve given up all Facebook property, so you can’t find me an Instagram or anything.

Felienne 01:10:06 Great. Well, thank you so much, Shawn, for being on the show today.

Shawn Wildermuth 01:10:10 Thank you. This has been awesome.

[End of Audio]

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