I’m a woman in tech, and this is what I love about it
Today I had a conversation with a 14 year old girl who told me she loved my article: I’m a woman in tech, and this is what I want in a company. She was in the process of interviewing eight executives about their thoughts on diversity and inclusion, and was recommended the article. As we were chatting she told me about all the things she was seeing in in the media lately, about Uber, about female founders who were harassed, and a million other negative stories about women in tech. I remember thinking, how on earth am I going to sit here and tell this young woman that she should pursue a career in tech? She’s seeing and hearing all these negative things about what it’s like for women in the industry. So this one is for her, and for 14 year old Leigha. This is what I love about working in tech:
I get to use my brain
People actually pay me to think and use my brain. That is still crazy to me. I don’t have to do paperwork, I don’t have to talk to people all day, I don’t have to do manual labour, I get to sit on a computer and use my brain to figure things out. I attend conferences and take classes to learn even more. If I get really good at a thing, I can go and learn another thing. I will never get bored because I’ll never stop learning, doing new things, and using my brain. When I was young I didn’t know jobs like this existed, I always figured you would need to be a student for life if you always wanted to keep learning. Turns out someone will pay you for it.
I get to be myself
I will be the first to admit I’m an “odd duck” as my grandmother would put it. I love sci-fi, comics, fantasy, cereal, cats and can quote Shakespeare and Bugs Bunny in the same sentence. I wake up and pull jeans on and grab whatever t-shirt is next in the row. But that’s okay! Because like I said earlier, I get paid to use my brain. My little quirks and the way I dress don’t matter. This is the first time in my life I can go to work and feel comfortable being myself. This also has a lot to do with my company, and I understand not everyone is this lucky, but I know from experience I wouldn’t feel this way outside of this industry.
“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.” — Neil Gaiman
I get to know cool people
I’m never the smartest person in the room, and couldn’t be happier about it. People in the tech industry are so damn smart it hurts. The stuff that comes out of their mouths, and the articles they write blow my mind while expanding it. Along with being smart, the tech community is one of the most supportive I’ve ever seen. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in tech who isn’t willing to grab a coffee with you, or a developer who refuses to help you solve a problem. There are also these magical groups of supportive people from diverse backgrounds. They know what it’s like and constantly fight for and build each other up. It sucks that they need to fight so hard, but seeing what they accomplish and how they are making changes is beautiful.
I get to build cool shit
One of the best parts about working in tech is not only getting to see all of these new products and services, but getting to build them. We get to build things that no one has built before, and watch these companies grow from nothing to massive monsters. A lot of us even get to help people and make a difference in the world. At my current company Hubba, I get to build software that helps craft brands and small companies be successful. Hearing the stories of hard working entrepreneurs with incredible products making connections and being discovered on the platform makes me happy.
“And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet.” — Neil Gaiman
I get to be a mentor
For some reason people out there ask my opinion. I still don’t fully understand it, but I take it as the biggest compliment. I’m always going for coffees and lunch with other people who want to know more about tech, or hear what it’s like being a woman in the field. One of the most enjoyable things I get to do is teach other people to code. This has been groups of 10 at once, men, women, kids, students with disabilities, and most recently women from a local shelter. Being able to share your knowledge and teach others a skill is an incredible feeling. It’s empowering, and I love showing people how easy it actually is to code. I’m lucky to have a skill that I know only enjoy doing, but can easily share with other people.
I get to smash stereotypes
Not that I go to parties often, but when I do and the conversation comes around to “what do you do for a living?” I am so pleased with myself when I say “I’m a software developer”. I am legitimately proud to tell people what I do. I see their face change, usually they are slightly shocked. Some say “Oh, good for you!” like I’m a chimp who knows sign language. But I don’t care about those people. I care about how much I genuinely enjoy what I do, and how I surprised them, and maybe even changed their opinion on what a software developer should look like.
“Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” — Neil Gaiman
This list goes on, but most of the other points fall into these categories. I love being in tech, I love what I do, I love the people I work with, and I have never been happier. I wish 14 year old me knew an industry like this existed and pursued it earlier in my life. I know we still have a long way to go, but I’m on board for the ride. And we could use some more of you.
If you liked this post, we are friends now. If you didn’t, we can still be friends. If you feel the need to leave a hurtful or disrespectful comment, please head to your local animal shelter instead and pet some pups who need it. It will make you feel better.