Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Had a computer in my room. Didn’t become a Woman Developer.

This has been a partly painful (but great!) reading experience as I have taken literally — and I mean literally — all the academic steps you have taken before you have chosen to become a developer. I can especially see myself reflected in this:

I never considered tech as a possible career choice. I was always bad at maths and since my teachers didn’t care, I simply gave up and chose to pursue a literary education.

And this:

Without really knowing what I wanted to be I started an English civilization and literature bachelor at university after high school.

And this:

When I returned to France I wanted to go towards women’s studies, even though I still had no idea what jobs I could get.

And, lastly, this (my current stage):

I knew I didn’t want to spend years studying, especially since I already had a master’s.

I am now, ironically, one of those women you have interviewed. I am in digital marketing — constantly peeking across the room, dreamily, envisioning what it might be like to sit in the (all-male) developers’ corner.

My husband is a developer as well. So is my father, so is my brother. How, with a set-up like this I still did not simply accidentally slide in that direction is purely based on the following fact: I never in a lifetime pictured myself in tech. No girl ever does. Why? I had exactly ZERO female role models to get the idea from. Not even in an ad. There’s a good podcast about how women stopped coding: Women used to be in computing courses. Then came “home computers,” and with them their commercialization, and with that their marketing. And guess what → computers were marketed to men and boys.

I actually had a computer in my room. I also have vague memories of my brother trying to teach me to code. And still, the idea of me even taking an interest in any of it was, back then, I remember — simply absurd.

I am now, much like you, 28. I can relate to the feelings you harbored with regards to your pre-coding jobs. I love to write, I forget time writing, I could write forever— essays and articles and even prose. But over the past few months I have also looked into Codeacademy. I’m slow. But I’m on my second course and I am completely fazed by the question of WHY ON EARTH DID NOBODY EVER TELL ME IT’S NOT THAT DIFFERENT?

I’m not all the way in yet. But I am already starting to sense that, most likely, if you like crafting beautiful sentences, you might enjoy crafting beautiful code. If you rock at learning languages, you might quite possibly rock at learning computer languages. The difference is merely a few dozen grand on your annual paycheck.

Living a life equally digital as that of my husband, this difference could not be any more real after a long work day. While I have witnessed him complaining about the “annoying emails” he gets from “too many recruiters,” I — with my MA degree in humanities — lined up at age 26 to get a marketing internship that paid below minimum wage. I had applied for it out of sheer desparation. Today, I am lucky enough to have a great boss, a relaxed team, and an okay salary — though, mind you, my husband returns home with MORE THAN TWICE that of which I earn. He, too, has an MA degree.

Life isn’t all about money. But there are certain realities. And the reality with which I wake up today is that, after investing myself in an MA degree I loved, the degree has failed to carry me into a professional environment that would even remotely compensate me on a financial or personal level. Mind you, my Medium profile description says: “Online Marketer by day, Writer by Night.” It is the night in which I come to life. And yet, when you graduate, you cannot just “be a writer.” So what now?

I sometimes feel like I am in a catch-22 situation here. I have invested my twenties in a degree that now fails to deliver (surprise!). And yet I should start making money now. From where I stand, it looks like I should start saving up. It seems ridiculous to change my mind now. To invest in yet another path.

Your article, however, encourages. It shows that it’s possible. It’s hard, but it’s possible. And so I want to thank you and encourage you to keep on posting because at this point I am not sure I’ll ever make the switch; but your words have influence, over me, over other women, and surely also on men who find themselves in similar situations. Keep it up!