Today I gave a keynote at ACCU in Oxford. In the midst of it I made two (count them) two statements that I should have known better than to make. I was describing the late '70s, and the way we felt about the C language at the time. My slide said something like: "C was for real men." Emily Bache, whom I know and hold in high regard, spoke up and said "What about women?". And I said something like: "We didn't allow women in those days." It was a dumb crack, and should either not have been said, or should have been followed up with a statement to the effect that that was wrong headed.
The second mistake I made was while describing Cobol. I mentioned Adm. Grace Hopper. I said something like "May she rest in peace." I don't know that any of the words were actually demeaning, but the tone was not as respectful as it should have been to an Admiral in the United State Navy, and one who was so instrumental in our industry; despite what I feel about Cobol.
I am a 59 year old programmer who was brought up in a male dominated industry, operating in a male dominated society. To my regret, old habits and attitudes, that I thought were long dead and conquered, pop up from time to time. I am very appreciative that Emily pulled me aside after the talk and pointed them out to me. The _last_ thing I want to do is discourage women from becoming programmers.
So, if you see me making a mistake like this, you yell out and stop me. Or catch me afterwards. Or write me a note. And don't let any of my peers get away with it either.