I was recently involved in a conversation where it came up that the term “coders” when used to refer to software developer was dehumanizing, offensive and inappropriate as it was indicative of a state of mind of the interchangeability and essential sameness of all software developers. This is not unlike the ongoing discussion that says the same thing about the use of the word “Resource” or “Resources”. Those that find these terms wrong base their opinion on the premise that referring to those that work on a project as resources reduces them to interchangeable cogs within a machine where if one gets sick or leaves they can just be replaced like a lego brick.
I have a problem with this line of thinking. I tend to hold that it is sometimes required to refer to groups of people with a term that differentiates them from other groups of people. This might be Software Developer, Coder, Systems Analyst, Technical Writer, Accountant, etc. Is the use of any of these terms offensive? Is it the term used or the fact that ANY term is being used? If ANY term is acceptable then would it not also ‘reduce’ the group in the same way? If so how does one refer to a group of people with a similar set of skills? Is it possible to do so?
It seems to me that a manager that treats the people working on his\her project as interchangeable is of course not doing a good job of being a manager. But does a manager that treats their people with complete respect as individuals reduce them by referring to them by their job title or skill?
I always put more stock in actions and intentions than in the pure use of a word. I mean a manager could use all the “right” words but still treat their people with no respect. This is because they have no respect and their intent is wrong. But if a manager has full respect for their people but uses the wrong term and has no intent to dehumanize them are they a bad manager?
I'm fully ready to hear that I'm way outside the envelope of reality here. Maybe I'm just not getting it. Set me straight. I know I'm not seeing it but maybe a comment here can word it in a way that I have not seen before. Up to now the explanations I have seen all seemed like political correctness for it’s own sake.