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Hannah Balenda
Hannah Balenda

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Nevertheless, It Still Sucks To Be A Woman In Tech

I've been working as a web developer for 2.5 years. I arrived here via an increasingly common path, a BA in the humanities and a 9 month coding bootcamp several years later when I couldn't figure out how to get a job.

But it turns out, I love this work. We get to solve puzzles all day, and by the end of it we've (hopefully) built something useful. That's why I keep doing it, but here's some reasons it's still hard for me:

1.) I feel stupid every day

Sure, part of this is the nature of the job always changing and requiring you to learn something new, and that's fine. What I'm talking about is something I guess you could call "computer literacy", a vast and undefined thing, gained over many years of computer one on one time at home. I often find myself in the situation where my peers assume a term or process is common knowledge and I have to fess up that I don't know what they're talking about and look dumb even though it's often a) extremely easy and learnable, and b) not integral to my ability to do my job.

2.) There are gendered assumptions around front-end vs. back-end development

This has already been talked about at length, but it bears repeating because it still happens. Jobs are often de-valued when women do them. In tech, we've seen similar gender and value assumptions in the past with terms like hardware/software, and engineering/programming (if you haven't already read the New York Times' The Secret History of Women in Coding, do it now!). Anyway, if I had a nickel for every time someone assumed I was a web designer.

3.) The culture is exclusive... and weird

Guys, this is just a job. It's a job you can learn to do by using your brain, and the abilities of that brain are not dictated by your gender, race, or sexuality.
But the coder #brand would have you think it takes more than that, and that you gotta hack and blog and snark and be more right than everyone else 18 hours a day to be a real dev. These rules have been largely dictated by cis white men, and so it's always felt like a struggle to be a part of this community, but whoops, here I am. Instead of bending ourselves to fit the mold, or being boxed out, let's keep doing our thing and expand the definition of what it means to be a developer. Then let's go home to our friends and loved ones and buy art and make dinner and whatever else we need to be ourselves.

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