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Nevertheless, she coded beyond print("Hello World")!

mridubhatnagar profile image Mridu Bhatnagar ・5 min read

I spent years living with decision paralysis. Ask someone which language to learn? And everyone starts to impose their own favorites. Not realizing the fact that the newbie who is looking up to you might just quit in listening to your debate or bias towards a language. JAVA, C, C++ (add anything else)

The reason I was able to enter the tech industry was that I was fortunate to meet someone at the right time. He gave hope, showed the way, invested time. Something I'll forever be indebted to. That one Yes, you can. And I changed my personal narrative.

Python became the first language that helped me get started with programming, which made me interested in programming. We were given interesting projects to build. And just before stepping out of college. I thought to give it a shot again what I easily gave up on. And, there is no looking back ever since. When on my own I grabbed an off-campus internship. The person who taught programming told, "Be passionate about it. Programming will teach you about life". Some years hence, I am more connected to code. It feels so true.

I love to build products, understand how products are built.

That same classroom that gave seed to programming was also the classroom where a parallel thought ran "If ever in life I get to stand on the other side of the classroom. This is how it is going to be. Confidence and Passion should speak, I should invest in others' growth. Everyone can. I need to encourage the other."

Some years down the line through developer communities, I got the opportunity to make it to the other side. And, it feels amazing to pay it forward and give back to the community. Far far away from what I am receiving but glad to pay it forward.

Earning a living out of coding has been a roller coaster ride. From day 0, it was about finding a job on my own. No contacts. When I found a developer job. The next thing waiting to be faced was toxic environments. It was the result of toxicity I suffered burnouts, have heard a lot of "You cannot do it". Thankfully outside of a day's job I had people who stood by as pillars. Explained what toxicity is and gave the courage to walk away.

I have lost count of how many times I have appeared for interviews, got rejected. To date despite the setbacks what I am proud of is walking away from toxicity, in the interviews when the behavior of the employer didn't seem right I have walked out, opting out of the process when the interviewer made a mockery because I asked for higher pay, ask unprofessional question age, marriage, why with family, without family, etc. I have learned to let go. Those are not the right places to be in. Don't smile and accept things because you are the one in need of a job and not giving a job.

There is no favor anyone is doing. Building better products is a team effort. So far all tech teams I have been part of, the maximum number of female programmers have either been only 1 that was me or a maximum of 2 of us. I want to see more programmers but I don't want them to go through what I am going through. Together we can bring a culture change.

The power that code gives you to bring an idea to life, support systems, statements like don't get disheartened, I am sure... and those smiling faces from whom I get to hear "Hey, I attended X session of yours, learned Y and it helped me". Feels like some purpose is fulfilled. This is what has helped me survive and not quit. Keep the chin-up!

Equality in tech looks like…

  1. Please don't tell anyone you cannot do it. The problem is they'll believe you and stop. Make them stronger. Teach them to fight.
  2. Someone helped you, stand like a pillar for someone else. Building a career takes time.
  3. Support the beginner. Don't keep on constantly saying it is easy. This is what gives root to imposter syndrome.
  4. The language might be easy. Rest everything is a steep learning curve. There are way too many things to learn. Please don't show off.
  5. Please don't ignore what is happening in your surroundings. If something is not right. Speak up.
  6. Don't look down at someone because of the language they code in. Eh... PHP? Eh... Python? For you, it might be lot of fun. For someone else, it might be an end before a start.

My advice for allies to support self-identifying women and non-binary folks who code is...

  1. Make it easy for women to stand with you in a circle and discuss technology.
  2. Don't share and engage with tweets/posts depicting a girl and boy having chat. And the girl is unable to make sense out of what a function call is.
  3. GIFs of a girl and boy sitting behind a laptop. A girl talking about laptop color and boy talking about system specifications.
  4. Appreciate it if she brings a good point to the table.
  5. The journey is challenging for both. A bit different for us because it isn't as easy to call a friend at 3:00 AM and discuss "Can you help me fix the code?", there are no friends who would come along for that tech meetup, not everywhere we can talk code.
  6. Stories of two women moving out an starting a company are rare, a manager moving out to another company and calling a female team member along with him/her to the new workplace are even rare. Direct referrals, a twitter retweet where someone will advocate for a female's skill are rare. It is only when you have made it big. And, people across countries know you. Sponsor, advocate if you are aware of someone's skills.
  7. Discuss new language features, code optimizations something you built with your female friends.
  8. You'll be ascending the career ladder. While a girl would-be restarting it multiple times. The speed at which the new cool product would come is many folds greater. In the meantime, your co-worker might be investing in bringing up and nurturing the kid. Can you take the risk, hire her based on the experience she holds and her ability to learn instead of hiring on the basis of new shinning thing in the market?
  9. Please don't do this. Not getting a woman onboard because she cannot stay late at night in the office.
  10. Hire her, reject her based on the skillset she brings along. Not hiring a girl because she is of marriageable age tomorrow she might go an marry, have kids, etc, etc. Sorry, that is none of your business.


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abhiabhi94 profile image

waise iss list me na jane kitne points aur add ho sakte hai...par in any case more power to every women out there