English was not my first language. I think partly because of that I've always been fascinated by languages as a means of expression and creativity, both as way to include others as well as to withhold information from those who didn't understand. (Side note: writing your teenage diary in Tolkien runes is a great way to ensure no one you know can ever read it.) Every spare moment growing up was spent on reading or creative writing. By college I had learned English, Latin, Spanish and Japanese, and toyed around with basic HTML and CSS. To me it was the same thing, just a different audience, vocabulary and different grammatical structure.
Accepted coding culture at my college at the time was pretty different, even though it was only a decade ago. IT and CS were pretty firmly divided, web developers were looked down on by programmers, and no one I knew studying these topics was a woman or nonbinary person; my own presentation was pretty masculine at the time. Even though I was fascinated by the web and was objectively good at math, I let other people's comments get into my head. I never viewed this as a possible "real job" for me, so when the time came to get a real job, I stopped coding altogether.
Along the way I've been gradually drawn back into code, inquiring about ways to transition into IT departments, but being pushed out of the workforce when I had my kids. When I discovered Free Code Camp's online curriculum last summer, it was the catalyst that got me back to learning code and building things. It kind of feels like coming home.
I'm currently working with Vue.js to make reactive web apps and games.
The rapidly changing web development landscape. What we can do with the web has come so far in the last decade! I'm excited to see what new frameworks and technologies emerge and how the web changes as everything gets connected to it, even if we do see some wacky IoT shenanigans along the way.
Find online communities of women in tech, and if there are Women Who Code meetups or something similar near you, check them out in addition to your regular learning/networking efforts. As a local code meetup organizer, I've definitely noticed how often I am the only woman in the room.ðŸ˜… Having somewhere where you know that won't be the case can help when you feel intimidated or like you don't belong.
Also, if you happen to be in a position where you can do this: speak up about inclusion of parents even if you don't have kids or plan to yourself. If you haven't had kids, you really don't know how much of our systems in society (at least in the US) are designed to keep women at home if they have young children. Ensuring your workplace has good family leave policies and that your meetups are either family-friendly or show consideration for those who need childcare are a great way to help. Nursing tends to get all the attention, but the barriers don't end there.