Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

My mom gave me the confidence to be a woman in tech

My mom and me.

My mom never gave me the impression that there was a single thing I was not capable of.

As a child, this manifested itself in multiple ways.

I tried many things at least once. I did gymnastics and went to summer camp. I played basketball and was a cheerleader. I played volleyball (and developed a love for it that persists to this day). It didn’t matter if I ended up not liking them, it mattered that I had the confidence to try.

I valued my education. A lot. I took pride in doing well in school before grades were even a thing — first and second grade Tara was always thrilled to not only receive checks on my report card; but check pluses. My mom would congratulate me on my grades but that was it; no special celebration dinner or monetary compensation like my friends received from their parents each time they got an A. (Yes, I was salty about that as a child).

But as I grew older, I realized what she’d been instilling in me. She was confident in my abilities and expected me to do well; as such, I was confident and expected the same from myself.

So, it was a no-brainer for me when it came time to consider colleges.

Though we’d never discussed it, attending college felt intrinsic to who I was. Just as I’d been expected to do well in school, it was expected I’d go to college. It wasn’t something up for debate or even warranting to discussion; it was simply a fact of life.

The sun rises in the east. Tara will go to college.

The sun sets in the west. Tara will go to college.

As an adult, her unwavering belief in me has translated into my unwavering belief in myself.

When I told my mom I was changing my major to creative writing after three years in civil engineering (1.5 years loving it; 1.5 years hating it), she told me my happiness mattered most and that she couldn’t wait to see what I’d do.

This was in contrast to the countless friends, family members, and strangers who felt the need to tell me that I was making a mistaking; that I wouldn’t make nearly as much money as I would as an engineer. As if I hadn’t already considered that and decided that I didn’t care; as if I wasn’t still the same person hellbent on getting where I wanted to be professionally.

When I felt unsure of my short-term career goals post-college, my confidence led me to a software company where I added some additional goals to my professional to do list.

My belief in myself helped me earn a promotion just five months in. It also gave me the confidence to pioneer a new position. One of my greatest successes (and failures) to date.

It also led me to resign when I got fed up with the sexism, workplace politics, and departmental gerrymandering that prevented me from getting the job I’d pioneered in the first place. (I quit without another job lined up).

My confidence — despite my heavy dose of imposter syndrome — also helped me land a job as product manager.

When I realized that the being a product manager for that company wasn’t going to work, it gave me the confidence I needed to take the leap and invest myself full-time in learning to code.

Of course, I was a little wary about it; affording a mortgage, health insurance, and general living costs is definitely more stressful without a steady stream of income. But I did it anyway.

I did it even though there were naysayers who said I expected too much as a 24 year old woman in tech. Who said I had to “pay my dues” when it came to sexism and offensive jokes in the work place. Some have called me an “entitled millennial” because of it. Some have tried to put me down by calling me a young, ambitious woman.

And, you know, some of them would be partially correct. I am young, ambitious, and a woman.

But I don’t expect too much: I expect the best from myself and for myself. It’s a trait I picked up from my mom and it’s one of the best gifts she’s ever given me.

I spend a lot of time thinking about books, writing about life, and learning to code. If you’re interested in following my journey to become a programmer, you can follow me on Medium. If you’re a woman in tech who feels like an imposter: I can relate. Feel free to reach out to me, we can talk tech and help shed our imposter syndrome together.