Most Software Dev Jobs Are Bullshit Jobs

melissa mcewen
4 min readNov 28, 2017

Since I published my piece on leaving software development, people have written me to ask what we can do to make software development a better profession for workers. I’m not sure, as there are people who are perfectly happy with the way things are now, though I wonder about the long term effects it will have on them both physically and mentally. I believe that there is literally no reason software developers should ever work 80, or even 40 hours a week.

Let’s look at other professions with long hours. Like surgeons. Some operations take long continuous hours that cannot be broken up. For example, the surgery to separate conjoined twins takes around 20 hours. I’m sorry, as important as software devs (and the recruiters who call us “rock stars”) want to think they are, they are not surgeons. With a few rare exceptions, you as a software developer are not saving anyone’s life. Think about the work you’re doing. It is really probably not very crucial at all to anyone. It might even what David Graeber calls a “bullshit job”:

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t…