When Do You Know You’re A Developer?
Those who have listened to me frantically research, watched me pour over various articles, code samples, and listened to me ask what feels often like 10,000 questions will also often hear me speak on how I’m not confident.
I still don’t know so much!
Can I assign a value to a span tag? Can I read that value? How do I push into a specific key in the database? Where should I go to look up how to do …. and the questions go on.
I’m told that this type of questioning, the uneasy sense of uncertainty and lack, the various dreams of code, running after you in dark hallways — no? Okay, maybe that one’s just me. But, in all seriousness, this never stops. I’ve seen various devs on twitter speak on how they’ve been in the game 10 years, 20 years, and so on, and they still often feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. And maybe there’s the lesson.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Being a femme presenting East Asian Queer person, discomfort is a daily experience. And in many ways, it’s almost background noise until something happens to bring it to the surface. Being alone on the way to the car from school after 10pm on a quiet street, being cat called; and that’s just the daily stuff.
I question daily whether my presentation will cause discomfort. Whether I’m not feminine enough, if I’m laughing too loud, too assertive or too opinionated. These questions persist as I consider the vastly male dominated field of tech and software development where I hope to build a thriving career. I’ve heard many things about it being very old-boys-ie, cliquey, and sexist. A younger me, would have found that enough to avoid the field entirely. I’d already been told once before that “girls were too dumb for code”. A sentiment that both embarrassed me in front of my class, as much as it both saddened and infuriated me. As an older me, current me, the me that has lived a little longer, seen a bit more, and done more, I recognize that things don’t change when they go unchallenged.
So I’m challenging, my own doubts, fears and insecurities, as much as the views, opinions, doubts, and actions of those who thing I can’t. I still have my insecurities and I’ll likely continue to have them, though I’m not going to let them stop me from getting where I want to go. Knowing that I’m not alone in this helps. Each day is a learning process, but I’m gaining newfound confidence (one I’d lost years ago) in my ability to learn, solve problems, and find answers. I’m learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
That being said, I’m happy to see that the field is changing on a daily basis. Femme presenting coders are all over twitter, and a reach for inclusion and diversity seems to be the thing. It warms my heart to see people support one another, regardless of identity, race, gender etc., and I’d like to highlight some inspirational people, and in honor of it being #internationalWomensDay,
My Top 5 Inspirational Women in the Tech Industry
Alyssa Miller, https://alyssasec.com/
Hacker, Security Evangelist, and Cyber Security Professional.
Ms. Miller is a chapter leader for the Women of Security meet up group, and currently holds a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certificate. A public speaker, with a passion for everything she puts herself into. Her blog is amazing, and if you’re interested in cyber security, or public speaking, her blog will be a great resource. I started following Ms. Miller out of a genuine curiosity about the field of cyber security. Being someone with high aspirations, I wanted to know more about the field, the people in it, and what they’ve traversed in their journey to get to where they are.
Helen Anderson, https://www.helenanderson.co.nz/,
The data community moderator at dev.to, who teaches, mentors and focuses on those who are underrepresented in the tech sector. A writer, and a vocal human who has a passion for analytics, database and block chain technologies. She currently has 10 free copies of her book on SQL, AWS, and Big Data on her twitter!
Kesha Williams, http://kesha-tech.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/
Ms. Williams, is a software engineer, an international keynote speaker, a AWS machine learning hero, and among many other things, a S.T.E.M. advocate. She’s passionate about empowering women, youth, and underrepresented people in the spaces of emerging technology and innovation. Ms. Williams is one to keep an eye on, she’s involved with so much of what currently fuels the world of technology as we know it. I hope to one day get to sit in on one of her keynote sessions. Ms. Williams is one to keep an eye on.
Tracy Chou, https://triketora.com/
Ms. Chou is a start up founder, software engineer, and diversity advocate. Currently building an app to help with online harassment, being someone who has spoken on her being the victim of harassment through her journey. She is starting her own company, to give people a safer experience online, to empower, and protect them from online bullying and abuse. She’s an inspiration, and someone definitely worth following.
and last, but definitely not least:
Heather Payne, http://junocollege.com
You can read all about her here, about 2 weeks ago now, my stand-up group and I sat down and had lunch with the founder and CEO of JunoCollege. It was a pleasant, round-table type situation where everyone shared their story about how they got into bootcamp and coding. Heather listened, and I mean, it felt like she actually listened. She offered her own experiences, and shared her journey (quickly because we were short on time, everyone had such unique stories), and imparted some of her own ideas about coding as she was learning it herself. Also a Founder of Ladies Learning Code, she is an advocate for digital literacy for women, seeking inclusion and empowerment for the underrepresented.
I could keep going, but this is long enough, and I need to study for my final test before the exam.
Be good friends, keep going and don’t give up.