Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

I Code. Please Stop Looking So Surprised

Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

I attended my third Mobile World Congress this week. While it seems to get a little better every year in terms of female attendance, this was the first year I felt a bit like an outsider.

The previous two years, I went as part of the team from a previous job, when I worked for a boutique consultancy. I went in order to scout technologies and do some business development. MWC is usually a great conference if those are the goals.

Although obviously the conference is still heavily dominated by male attendees, I always felt it was an equal playing field and was able to sell effectively and create successful business opportunities. I never really considered gender a factor.

Mobile World Congress Female Participation Figures — Source

This year was different, because I went for my own business, a mobile app startup. When talking to exhibitors and trying to find useful mobile analytics platforms or seek out potential partnerships, I kept receiving slightly surprised reactions when people heard what I was doing.

It’s not confusion over the app itself, more confusion that I am leading the team developing it. Yes, I know how to code. Please, stop looking so surprised.

I’m aware that there are less female developers out there, but our numbers increase every day. It should not be surprising to find a female developer trying to launch a business in 2018.

Somehow exhibitors felt the need to question credentials when given this information about what I do. How did you learn to program? How long have you been programming?

If someone is interested because he or she wants to learn to code, I’d be happy to share. But, honestly, do all exhibitors ask these questions of every attendee? I find it hard to believe, considering they are selling software to help grow and monetize mobile applications.

I’m sharing these thoughts on MWC as more of an observation. I’m sure next year there will be less surprise in people’s eyes at my career choice, and even less the year after that.

I didn’t respond in any particular way, I just answered the question as politely as possible and redirected the conversation back into business topics. But, if you have had a similar experience at an event, I’d love to hear your reaction and if you handled it a particular way.

Have you experienced this look of surprise when talking about programming?

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