Skip to main content Accessibility Feedback

The full stack developer myth

For years, I’ve publicly stated that the idea of the full stack developer is a myth.

Yes, over time people can learn a wide range of capabilities across many areas of the tech stack, including both the front end and back end. But being able to competently work across the whole stack, deeply and well? There’s just too much specialization needed.

I found myself clapping along with every single tweet in Charlie Owen’s recent thread on this topic

Becoming convinced that anyone that calls themselves “full stack” actually means “I’m a programmer who knows how to do some devops”.

Amazing how “full stack” almost never means knowing design or accessibility. Because they’re also full stack skills. Sorry? What’s that? You can’t do progressive enhancement? But you call yourself full stack?


Charlie gets into the role that toxic masculinity and a history of men dominating industries pioneered by women have had on the web.

It’s almost like it’s a culture of masculinity stretching its legs wide across the seats of the tech industry.

If a skill is worth masculinity points, it’s claimed. If a skill is coded as feminine it’s remade with masculine tools. If a skill can’t be remade it’s dropped and ignored.

Which is why front end got turned into a programmatic hardcore engineering fest. It’s malleable to that (at huge cost to the users). It’s also why accessibility will never be considered full stack, as it can’t be automated. It requires empathy and communication.

To feed the ego of a masculine webtech industry we sacrificed accessibility and usability.

This industry needs more feminine energy, pronto.

Do yourself a favor and go read the entire thread. It’s so good!