A couple of days ago, I read an article: “Eat Code Sleep Repeat” is such bullshit. It was posted on our tech slack group and it caused quite a stir. Most agreed with the article but some argued that it just meant they really liked coding. I understand the latter’s point of view. If there was a “eat run sleep repeat”, I would probably buy it, but as someone who regularly teaches and mentors girls, “eat code sleep and repeat” is very detrimental to them. It is the kind of message I have to fight every time I mentor or do a workshop.
A couple of months ago, I was part of my old high school career fair. I attended with my coworker to present the career of software engineer to high school students, some of them going to college very soon. We were sharing the room with a writer, a fashion designer and someone working at the francophone radio. We would get small groups coming in every half hour or so. The guys would rush to our table. They would be very excited and would talk to us about all the cool tech.
It would take longer for the girls to come to our table. Usually, only after the guys had left. I asked them if they had ever considered getting a computer science degree and every time, they said: “No, I like talking to people”. Now, I understand them. I used to be one of them. I used to be the girl who was great in most subjects, especially calculus. But computer science never crossed my mind. All I could picture when I thought of computer science was Neo in the Matrix. Despite the fact I thought Neo was badass, I never wanted to end up like the picture below.
For an 18 year old girl, the myth of the programmer seemed lonely. As a member of the technology industry, I now know that the myth is just that, but people outside of it don’t and messages such as “eat code sleep repeat” really don’t help. As a software engineer, some days, I am stuck in meetings all day long. Some days, I code. Others, I plan or create mockups for new features. My job involves so much more than coding but it’s really hard to communicate that to young high school girls who all hear the same message and who watch TV and movies picturing programmers as socially inept and awkward.
So for any girl reading this and considering computer science as a degree, please give it a shot. Don’t dismiss it, because someone told you science was for boys or that programmers code all day.
Do you like…
- managing people? Consider project management.
- finding a solution to a technology problem? choose development.
- the big picture? Interested in how systems interact together? IT architect could work for you.
- growing tech communities, meeting people and promoting your product? Look into being a developer evangelist.
- coming up with new features and have a vision for the product? How about product manager?
- bridging the gap between business people and developers? Business Analyst do that.
- Being an entrepreneur and have an idea for a product? Start your own company.
- Selling technical solutions to companies? Google Solutions engineer and decide if that could be a good fit for you.
A computer science degree would lead to all these career options (and more) and most of these do not involve coding. If you want to get your feet wet, without necessarily committing to a 4 years degree, check out some of the workshops at Ladies Learning Code or Girls Learning Code.