What is a Cowgirl Coder?

The whys and wherefores of Cowgirl Coding

No one knows where the term ‘cowboy coder’ came from (is this true? wikipedia link). It refers to someone who is self-taught, and doesn’t necessarily follow the niceties of coding comments or protocols.

I suspect that there are actually a lot fewer cowgirl coders out there. Women tend to learn collaboratively and socially, and men are somewhat more iconoclastic. I enjoyed learning on my own, but I actually see several disadvantages to my style. I lack formal training, so I sometimes make mistakes that a trained coder wouldn’t. On the other hand, I come up with innovative solutions and shortcuts that don’t occur to coders who have been steeped in algorithm design theory and VCS protocols.

I also see that there needs to be a lot of internal motivation for young women to learn how to code. It’s a boy’s club, and there’s not a lot of immediate friendship and support. In that
sense, no matter how much training you’ve received, if you’re a girl coder, you’re a Cowgirl.

Keep it up, ladies.