What’s With The Name?

It all began back in 1992, when Larry Constantine wrote a column for Computer Language Magazine, titled Cowboy Coders. In it, he discussed what he called ‘Cowboy Coders’, those ‘rugged individualists’, the ‘strong and silent’ types who prefer to code alone, unhampered by discipline and structure of any kind. It was a good column. I enjoyed it and he got an enormous amount of feedback about it.

Shortly thereafter, I attended my first computing conference, the spring Software Development Conference. Larry was there and he gave the closing speech for the manager’s portion of the week. His speech, of course, was a reworking of his Cowboy Coders column, and was both effective and amusing. When he opened the floor for questions, I asked something that had been bothering me for some time - “How can a developer who works alone avoid being a Cowboy?!” Unfortunately, and a fact that I’d missed in my tiredness, he’d just gotten through telling the crowd that he’d never run across a CowGIRL Coder…

Gray horse in a field.

Well, I am pretty obviously female. And I work alone, and I have horses. And I had several friends in the audience – highly amused friends. My fate was sealed… :-)

More than 30 years later, I’m still wondering how I can avoid being a Cowgirl at work, when I analyze, design and code a project.