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In the Future, Everyone Will Be a Software Engineer and Barely Any Will Know How to Code

By Michael J. Coren // Quartz // September 13, 2016

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Earlier this year, the App Association calculated there were 223,000 unfilled coding jobs in the U.S. Companies have started touting coding as the new literacy, almost a prerequisite to getting in the door. Last month, General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt announced every new hire at the 305,000-person company will learn to code.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations,” he wrote on LinkedIn on Aug. 4. “You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code…. This is existential and we’re committed to this.”

Everyone from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Snoop Dogg seems to agree: Computer programming is the single best professional opportunity in the world.

The problem is no one has a clue how to actually teach everyone to code. Decades after demand for engineering jobs began to soar (and even including an aggressive immigration push by tech giants designed to fill those roles with coding talent from abroad), the supply of labor in the U.S. workforce still lags, and the gap is growing.

Out of the 1.9 million college students awarded bachelor’s degrees from U.S. colleges in...

LinkedIn’s Search Algorithm Apparently Favored Men Until This Week

By Ashley Rodriguez // Quartz // September 8, 2016

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Until Sep. 7, LinkedIn users searching for female contacts on the site may have noticed some strange results. Searches for common female names were yielding suggestions for male names as well.

Take a LinkedIn search for “Stephanie Williams.” Earlier this week, that query returned the result, “did you mean Stephen Williams?” (in addition to the 2,500-plus users actually named Stephanie Williams). A search for “Stephen Williams,” however, simply displayed the 7,200 results for people with that name.

The same was true of searches for at least a dozen other popular female first names in the U.S., a Seattle Times investigation revealed. LinkedIn wondered whether users searching for Andrea meant Andrew, Danielle meant Daniel, and Alexa meant Alex. Searches for the U.S.’ 100 most common males names didn’t return suggestions for female names.

LinkedIn’s “did you mean” results are fueled by an algorithm designed to suggest names with similar spellings. The algorithm makes recommendations based on how frequently names have shown up in past queries of the company’s more than 450 million member profiles, says spokesperson Suzi Owens.

“It is not anything to do with gender,” she said.

All the same, on Sept. 7...

What Programming's Past Reveals About Today's Gender-Pay Gap

By Rhaina Cohen // The Atlantic // September 7, 2016

Margaret Hamilton of Cambridge, Mass., mathematic and computer programmer at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, sits in mock up of Apollo command module.
Margaret Hamilton of Cambridge, Mass., mathematic and computer programmer at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, sits in mock up of Apollo command module. // AP

“Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.” So said the pioneering programmer Grace Hopper in a 1967 Cosmopolitan article. Programming, she explained, is “just like planning a dinner”: It requires advance preparation, patience and attention to detail.

Hopper, who, in 1946, was part of the team that developed ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer, established herself in the pre-brogrammer age. During the 1940s and '50s, it was primarily women, not men, who were developing code for the nation’s first computers, and the accompanying pay and prestige were both relatively low.

But as the century progressed and the field of computing became male-heavy, compensation and esteem both rose precipitously—despite the fact that the substance of the job remained similar.

How did programming transform from a feminine field into an occupation synonymous with young men wearing hoodies who collect generous salaries for hacking and disrupting things?

The story behind the fluctuations in programmers’ salaries and cultural status—as well as those of other professions whose gender composition has shifted over the years—sheds light on how and why women’s work is, across the economy, considered to be less valuable than men’s work. It also provides a rebuttal to the...

Silicon Valley May Finally Get Special Approval for Foreign Founders to Enter the US

By Michael J. Coren // Quartz // August 29, 2016

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The hardest part of building a startup for many is just arriving in the United States. For six years straight, Silicon Valley lobbied hard to get Washington to offer visas to foreigners who wanted to launch companies in the U.S., but despite bipartisan support in Congress, the effort failed last year because “few people were willing to make it a priority,” immigration activist Craig Montuori told Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration says it is preparing to commit to a compromise of sorts: an International Entrepreneur Rule proposed by the Homeland Security Department on Aug. 26. It’s not a visa, and as administration officials wrote in a blog post “there is no substitute for legislation.” But, they added, “the administration is taking the steps it can within existing legal authorities to fix as much of our broken immigration system as possible.”

The measure allows foreign entrepreneurs to enter the U.S. for up to five years to start and grow their companies. DHS estimates 2,940 entrepreneurs (pdf; p. 130) could qualify each year.

Applicants must hold at least a 15 percent stake in a company started within the last three years, play an operational role in their organization...

The Highest Paid Workers in Silicon Valley Are Not Software Engineers

By Michael J. Coren // Quartz // August 26, 2016

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In Silicon Valley, software engineer is synonymous with eye-watering compensation. Monthly salaries for engineering interns (about $81,600 per year annualized) are about twice the median wage in the rest of the country. While the reality of high-paying coding jobs is not wrong, programming isn’t the only way to climb Silicon Valley’s career ladder, and it’s definitely not the most lucrative.

Online hiring platform Hired released a report Aug. 25 analyzing 31,146 interview requests from 1,848 companies made through Hired’s platform during the first half of 2016. Its findings show product managers consistently get the top salary offers, $133,000 on average.

Software engineers were offered an average of $123,000 followed by designers at $115,000 during the second quarter of 2016. Analyses of H1B work visas and Glassdoor data from Google, Facebook and other tech giants arrive at similar conclusions.

The salary advantage for product managers has only grown, says Hired’s data scientist Jessica Kirkpatrick.

“We see that software engineers have always been paid less than product managers, but that the pay gap has widened over the past year,” she wrote by email. The trend holds after accounting for experience. Software...