“D30U30: You’re in Canadian Business!”

A few months ago I was nominated for a dubious “Developer 30 Under 30” award. I attended the first reception to speak with the organizers about representation in Tech, and the impact these lists have on how we (individually and collectively) identify who moves into STEM. I wanted to ensure they took this seriously; specifically, that they wouldn’t promote a toxic status quo. Then this happened:

From: Developer 30 Under 30 <email redacted>
To: Riley Shaw <email redacted>
Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 9:03 AM


Congrats! The list is live on Canadian Business and we’re so excited to share it with you. Please see the feature here1, and share away #D30U30!!

This is an amazing accomplishment and we can’t wait to celebrate with you tonight!


From: Riley Shaw <email redacted>
To: Developer 30 Under 30 <email redacted>
Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 11:27 AM


When I attended the first 30U30 event, I expressed concern that women wouldn’t be well represented on this list. I was assured that it was on your radar.

I’m extremely disappointed that a woman doesn’t show up until #14.

The following lines were cut from my bio:

> Technology isn’t an equalizing force; it’s whatever we make it.

> He’s interested in improving resources for folks who haven’t had the chance to be considered for lists like this one, yet.

Lists like the Developer 30 Under 30 have the chance to inspire a new generation of programmers. They can chip away at the subtle biases held by hiring managers, or teach parents that their daughters can program. In its current form, this list propagates the idea that good programmers are men.

On a related note, ​I intentionally mentioned Recurse Center in my bio because it is free. I question your motives for adding Queen’s University.

Thank you for the work that you have put into this list so far. I hope it’s not too late to fix some of these issues.

There was a lot of internal discussion about “fairness”, etc. Most was disappointing and unsurprising; some was encouraging. The list got re-ordered, for whatever that’s worth. But if there was any lingering doubt in your mind about industry awards, they are 100% made up and unrepresentative of anything meaningful!2

If you’re a Canadian developer and you’re reading this, consider volunteering at Ladies / Girls Learning Code. The workshops are so much fun and the people are awesome!

  1. Link removed because the award is bad…
  2. Some awards are things to be proud of; this post isn’t meant to diminish the hard work and effort folks put in to get recognized. But when you see a Tech / news organization using such a list as a marketing vehicle to establish themselves as experts… they probably aren’t. And most deserving people will not be recognized, or even considered.