Are you cut out for this?

Women are under-represented in tech. The number of women software developers, coders, programmers, etc. is really low compared to the workforce as a whole. We all know this. We all have heard this, but the question is why?

Why are there not more women going into coding and development?

I have a theory on this. You might think it is crap but whatever.

I think a lot of women get scared off or talk themselves out of it.

They hit one course or two and it gets hard so they think, maybe I’m not cut out for this. They hit that one computer science class that just kicks their butt so they think, maybe I’m not cut out for this. They take that online tutorial (or many of them) that start off with more acronyms than real words and make them wonder “Is that English?” and they think, maybe I’m not cut out for this. They see the sheer volume, width and breadth of how much there is available to learn coding and think, maybe I’m not cut out for this. They get paired up with some other person to do a project or code and the other person seems to know so much more than them or feel so much more comfortable with everything than they do and they think, maybe … you get the picture right?

The thing is maybe you are cut out for this. Maybe you are just looking at this adversity all wrong and letting is throw you off your game. So for those feeling a little shaky right now, let me give you some truth.

You are going to hit some courses or tutorials that make no freaking sense to you at all. It will happen. If it hasn’t happened to you, it is coming and you just haven’t taken enough classes yet. Why will it make no freaking sense whatsoever? Well it could be:

You are too stressed out to learn The person teaching just has a style you are not connecting with Maybe the course needs an intro course to give you some background before whatever it is your learning The tutorial may be based on stuff that has since been updated and the tutorial won’t work anymore without being updated too You are just having an off day

I could lay out 100 more reasons probably, but you get the point. It is not personal. One class or tutorial here or there is not the sole determining factor in whether or not you should do this at all. Your whole career does not rest on one computer science course. One grade does not negate the fact that you have learned tons of things in your life up to this point and are perfectly capable of learning one more. It just may need to be done in a different way. Attack it from a different angle. You can get it.

You do not need to know EVERYTHING. In fact no one knows everything. The programming, software development, coding, cloud, IoT, security, big data…. all the things… are not all required to be in your brain at the same time for you to do this for a living. No one is an expert at all of it. Most people just get started on learning some fundamentals with one computer language. Then they keep learning and find a niche they like. Then they get really good at that niche and learn some related stuff and they keep getting better over time. Just find some stuff you think is cool and keep learning. If you can learn the basics in just about anything, then you have what it takes to someday be a really good coder as long as you don’t stop your learning process.

Someone else will always know more than you at something. Get used to it. There are some people that can crank out code in a particular language the way that I can type this post. It is like walking to them. Those same people may be not great at other things like architecting code, database structures, making a UI visually appealing, planning a user friendly interface, etc. Don’t get intimidated by other people doing things better or faster or seemingly easier. Just know that at one point they completely stunk at it worse than you and they got better with practice and time. You can too. Someday if you keep working at it you will stink less and less every day until watching you makes other people feel crappy : )

So there is something that could mean that maybe you are not cut out for this coding stuff. If you really just don’t enjoy it at all you probably shouldn’t do it.

If someone told me tomorrow that I should go be a hockey player, that would be terrible advice for me. Not that there is anything wrong with hockey. I’ve watched a few hockey games and it seems like the fans are pretty into it. I don’t know how to skate, but I learned how to walk and swim so I’m sure with enough time and attention I could learn to do it. I just have absolutely no interest whatsoever in being a hockey player professionally or recreationally. I hate being cold. I don’t like being places that are cold enough for ice to exist. I really hate people colliding with me whether accidentally or on purpose and both seem to happen quite often in a hockey game. I couldn’t care less about putting a puck in a net. I can’t think of one thing about it that would bring me any joy to participate in. I can safely say the this hockey stuff is not for me.

If you feel about technology, mobile devices, social media, the internet in general the way I feel about hockey, then maybe this coding thing is not for you. That is 100% okay. Not everything is for everyone.

If you like technology and coding and all those things a lot but are just doubting yourself and your ability to learn stuff, knock it off. You are going to be fine. Just look into areas of coding and technology that seem cool to you and keep learning.

Now a lot of that truth is for anyone who is learning to code, but let me drop some truth for women in particular.

You need to stop constantly assessing, rating and comparing yourself to others. Some of us do that a lot and it is a great way to undermine your self-confidence and keep you frozen from trying or making progress. What you are cut out for is not determined by a grade, or an achievement or how you measure up to others. You are cut out for whatever you are determined to achieve. You have to try, and likely fail and try and hopefully do a little better before you fail again and repeat that process in order to do anything well so you might as well put that effort into something that you like and actually want to achieve. Failing isn’t pretty or glamorous. No amount of contouring or time with a curling iron can make it any prettier or less obvious. Fortunately, anyone else who is working on trying to achieve something is too busy picking themselves up from their last trip and fall to notice yours. So the other doers are either cheering you on to keep going or messing up themselves. It is only posers and those standing on the side doing nothing that have time to point and laugh. Don’t be that asshole and certainly don’t give a crap what that asshole is laughing about. Just flip em off and keep striving for awesome.

Susan Wands avatar
About Susan Wands
Full-Stack Developer / UX Designer / Speaker
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