Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Ladies, the web needs you

It’s happened again. An ad in the virtual paper: “web developer wanted”. The resumes flow in:

male, male, male, male, male…

Is that a problem? Why should anyone care? Why do I care?

Well, nature likes equilibrium, so it seems unnatural that a job that’s got nothing to do with gender is so far from equilibrium. That’s enough to make me care.

This is not a post about the differences between the sexes, it is not a post that addresses why this is the case. It is most certainly not a post that assigns blame. This is an invitation — a plea even — for women to come and join the web developer community.

What is a web developer, exactly

Web development involves three different technologies, HTML: how you write the structure of a web page, CSS: how you style a web page, and JavaScript: how you program a web page to make it sing and dance.

One of the great things about being a web developer is that the ‘role’ is really a whole gamut of roles. If you find that you prefer the design stuff then there’s work at the ‘web designer’ end of the spectrum. That’s not as technically challenging (less JavaScript involved), but requires an eye for design. At the other end of the spectrum is a server-side developer, dealing mostly in JavaScript, and less HTML and CSS. The majority of roles you see advertised as ‘web developer’ are somewhere in between, with a healthy mix of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. On bigger projects, you may even be able to move from one end of the spectrum to the other without changing desks.

Making the switch

I’ve heard on the grapevine that we’re reaching gender equilibrium in STEM enrolments; theoretically everything will be even-stevens in a decade or two. So although this message goes out to all the youngsters too, I’d like to address those people who are already in the workforce, perhaps feeling a little under-challenged (or not, or whatever) who would consider a career change.

I myself, in my mid-thirties, decided that I wanted to be a web developer because my career at the time didn’t tickle the right parts of my brain. So I quit, sat down at a computer and googled “how to be a web developer”. A year later I stood up, did some stretches, and went and got a job as a web developer. I understand this is not something everyone can do, but as far as entry costs go, $0 and one year without an income is pretty good value compared to spending a few years and tens of thousands of dollars on a degree.

You may be asking yourself at this point if you’ve got what it takes. Maybe you don’t feel like you’re ‘a developer’. Maybe you have the perception that computer science is a man’s job (we probably all do, it’s just a matter of whether it’s conscious or not). My suggestion is to ignore all that. Be aware of impostor syndrome and be aware that even the experts have it.

Pick a short, well-designed course and see if it’s your cup of tea. This one on HTML and CSS is 3 weeks at 6 hours per week. So is this one on JavaScript. Both are free. There’s plenty of other courses out there too.

Male domination

It’s something I can only attempt to imagine, but I guess it might be daunting to be the only female in a room full of males.

If this is something that concerns you, it’s worth pointing out that (at least in the roles I’ve had), the gender balance in the physical office space has been pretty equal. And it’s only anecdata, but of my last four managers, three have been female.

Show me the money

Money isn’t everything, but it isn’t nothing either. And when it comes to web development, the pay is pretty good. Here in Sydney, Australia, the pay is roughly double the average full-time wage once you’ve got a few years under your belt. Right now there’s 41 full-time jobs over $150k in the Sydney CBD.

Or a random city in the US:

Or London:

Take these results with a grain of salt, but it’s at least indicative.

Atmosphere

This is a wild generalisation, but I genuinely think the web development community is really friendly. Maybe I’m just too positive, but you read blog posts and see comments like “nice one!” and “thanks for writing this”. Randomly selected article from last week.

So, if you think the world of web development might be for you, get studying!

If you’re not a woman, that’s OK too. Maybe pass this on to someone you think might be interested.

Before you comment

If it’s positive

Go right ahead 🙂

If it’s negative

If you’re anti-equality then go right ahead. Us intelligent folk get our chuckles from your kind.

If you’re pro-equality and would like to call me out on sounding condescending or saying something that might offend some people or using a word that is considered a no-no: please be aware that comments like that are a deterrent to people even raising this issue.

If you like this post, don’t forget to recommend & share it and then check out more great Code Like A Girl stories.