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Nevertheless, Elizabeth Damilola keeps coding

Elizabeth
I am a frontend developer, and I write react.js code these days. I am hoping to share my knowledge with others. she/her
・3 min read

I have been inspired by a lot of amazing stories I've been reading. As women, no matter how different all have similar experiences based on our gender. We've been treated like second-class citizens and when we speak up (especially in the part of the world where I am from) we aren't taken seriously.

My coding journey

I attended a coding school, here in Lagos to study Software engineering and get a diploma. We were just a few ladies in the whole school, four females in my class. And we were just two who really wanted to pursue a career in tech. However, it was automatically assumed that I would not be able to catch up. I was told by both the trainers and male classmates that I would quit because "Women aren't designed to be in tech". And some even took their time to explain what I could study if I want to be in tech. I was constantly told things like

As a lady you could study digital marketing. It's not that difficult.

Ladies don't do Java, you can do graphics design and be a UI designer.

Just learn WordPress it's what most ladies do

I can build a blog for you, and you can start blogging. A lot of ladies do that.

Because of these statements and more, I decided to prove them wrong and this led me to study harder and always want to be the best in whatever tasks was given to us in class. This worked, I was picked as my team lead for my final project in my semester because I was one of the best in my class. But that didn't stop it. No matter how hard I tried I was always treated as an afterthought.

I pressured myself to not make any mistake because if I did my male peers will make it seem like it was a gender thing.

Workplace experiences

I was employed as a developer in a company but because of my gender, I was also asked to take up the role of writing minutes in meetings.

I offered to mentor new interns at a place of work, but all the interns were male and didn't want a female to mentor them because they "women don't really know much".

Whenever I brought up the topic of equality it was quickly discarded because according to the managers "It's not a problem in Africa".

I once applied for a job and after passing all the interview process I was offered a lower salary because "Ladies don't really spend their money".

I have joined teams where I was the only female and it was automatically assumed that I am not very good. I had to always work extra hard to prove that I am good because of my gender.

Concern

In all of my time coding, I have seen women quit programming, not because coding is too hard, but because they were told that they would never be good enough.

The issue of gender equality cannot be overstressed especially in Africa. It's worrying that a lot of people still don't see it as an issue and in Africa, women still aren't taken seriously.

My advice for allies to support equality in tech is

If you know an African lady who wants to code, offer to be her cheerleader and ask her to join (She Code Africa)[https://www.shecodeafrica.org/]

Conclusion

I keep coding because I want to and I deserve every chance and opportunity, I keep coding because I am a woman who can decide whatever I want, I keep coding because I freaking can. And I will keep coding and be a cheerleader to other women who are trying to find their way in tech.

Discussion (1)

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Zannu Rita

This is awesome, I do relate with this. But we are hope full, the world we see us in the same light as our male counterparts