Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Feeling Guilty about not Being a Woman In Tech?

I am coding as a away to overcome that ‘guilt’.

“Open laptop on desk displaying programming code near sunglasses, a phone, and a plant” by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

I have degrees in Economics and Business Management and now work as a freelance writer.

And I take regular guilt-trips to let ‘feminism’ down (guilt: 1) and not pushing hard and proving my mettle in STEM field(guilt:2).

Let me explain my predicament.

In my part of the world (and the social strata my family belongs to ) Medicine and Engineering are two most popular career options that parents choose for their progeny, since eons.

The stage was set for me.

My parents coaxed me to study diligently and either be a doctor or a software engineer.

I hated Math (guilt:3) and opted for Economics in college. I was more inclined to study liberal arts but it would have been ‘too much’ for my guardians.

So why I’m blabbering away my ‘sad’ career trajectory here?

Because I feel ( and John Lennon validated )

‘’…but I am not the only one’’.

There is a tribe who loves Humanities (or known as Liberal Arts in USA),despite knowing its dwindling money-making potential.

Many are stuck in a career related to arts, social science and looking wearily towards a future ruled by Data Science/Machine Learning/AI etc.

Don’t believe what I say? Give quick visit to this Quora or Reddit thread on career discussion. The panic is palpable.

When I see the movement across the world to enroll more girls in STEM, the women who are coding away their glories, shattering glass-ceilings in a male-dominated tech industry, I cheer on their glory .

However, a sense of a tinge of sadness (guilt?jealousy?) on opportunities that are lost, the ‘could have beens’ and ‘would have beens’ would remain there.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

A persistent ‘not smart-enough’ emotional state is adverse to well-being.

So I have chalked out a middle-ground for myself.

If you are a social science/liberal arts grad hoping to enter into the tech field (even tangentially) irrespective of age/career stage, then this is for you too-

Introspect

Do you need to learn coding to make more money?

This is the first question you should ask yourself.

My sister is an educator and a public health worker. Though she is becoming tech-savvier everyday, coding is not essential at the point for her career.

I,on the other hand, am trying to make a switch towards Technical writing and leveraging the free coding resources online for this purpose.

While computer programming is the future and everyone should be adaptable to technical changes, it’s way more important to become a ‘committed’ professional in whatever field, than a reluctant developer who is in ‘it’ just for money or parental coercion (both are aplenty in India).

Learn coding (take baby steps)

When you’ve decided to code, first sit back and relax.

There are tonnes of resources on the internet for beginners and it’s easy to lose your way and feel overwhelmed.

Here, I’d like to point out one very crucial thing:
if you have never done programming in school, it’s tough to sink your teeth in a course that expects a prior understanding in this subject.

Best enroll yourself in a coding course for ‘kids’ to get the gist of things. ‘Hour of Code’ in Khan Academy is one of my favorites.

Go ahead and get your hands dirty! Absorb the knowledge- like a child.

Join a community

There is ‘Code Like A Girl’, ‘FreeCodeCamp Ladies’ Lounge’( a Facebook group) and many more helpful platforms out there for women who code.

When you join people who are on the same boat as you are, you feel uplifted and less bothered to confess your ‘coding mess’. It is easier to ask for tips and trick too!

There are many ways to shatter glass ceiling

What happens when you have tried every avenue and code is not just your thing and you feel like a moron?

Stop feeling guilty and hold your head high.

“A glass dome with beams arranged in a triangle pattern” by John Morell on Unsplash

This world needs more women scientists, coders and engineers but it also requires women who thrive in whatever they do and have each others’ backs.

Believe me, there is glass ceiling for woman in every field (even in healthcare and teaching that are inherently perceived as women’s domains).

And being from a developing, conservative country- I can vouch for this fact .

P.S.– If you want your daughter to break-through the STEM field, please let her decide it for herself.

A girl who loves to code is total badass. So are the girls who want to be political cartoonist, film technician or police.

If you like what I did ‘there’ show some love in terms of claps/comments. 🙂

I have a personal blog where I write about books, reading and other tidbits of life in India.

In case, you are into ‘these’ things, you may give it a visit-

https://jheelamduttaroy.wordpress.com/