Maggie's avatar image.

CS & Linguistics. Would travel one-way to Mars.

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  • As a woman, did you find it difficult to enter the world of coding?

    What advice do you have for women intimidated by entering a field that is traditionally a 'male' field?

    Maggie's avatar image.

    The world of coding was a piece of cake as a woman- compilers know no gender bias, after all. Note that in Grace Hopper's era, programming was "women's work".

    But yes, the world of tech was and is still incredibly intimidating to me. I've been waiting for the day when being the only woman in a room feels normal, but it hasn't come yet. I'm still waiting to have a woman teach one of my classes. I dread constantly playing the game of "Hmmm, was this guy rude to me because he's just rude or because he's sexist?" (I most recently played that game when I asked a project member a question about his code and he impatiently told me to 'Just do the presentation.') Different people also react/adapt to varying degrees; for example, some women don't really notice the gender imbalance at all and that's okay.

    I've considered leaving for other industries/subjects many times, but Computer Science has proved too intriguing to give up on. The advice I'd give to others is to1. Find a topic that gets you stoked and run with it. (Mine is currently Computer Vision!)2. Find a community. Make friends with two, three people who aren't afraid to talk about the fact that they're intimidated. Lean on each other, celebrate success with each other, validate each others' emotions but refuse to let the related insecurities sink in. Coalition with other minority groups- the experiences of underrepresented groups are all different, but there are valuable parallels to be drawn. 3. Talk about it. A 2013 study (http://journals.aps.org/prper/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.9.020115) showed that in high school girls, actually talking about underrepresentation in class was one of the best indicators of their interest in science.