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Becoming a female software engineer (who studied Geography)

kinas profile image Angelika Kinas ・4 min read

Why should you read this?

Good question! So I would like to encourage women to join me on this exiting adventure of being a software engineer (and believe me, if I can, you can too!). So maybe if you are a woman, you might be interested in that? Or maybe even anyone else would be interested to read about a different point of view.
Or maybe because you are just bored and want to relax for 5 mins :-).

Why should anyone become an engineer?

I think software engineering is the future. Believe it or not, more and more information is gonna be transformed into data and that will be (sooner or later) digitalised. To know a little bit about how to use and protect this data is not just fun, it is also crucial to your personal security.
On top of that software engineering jobs are well paid and usually have these perks like "work life balance", "options to travel", "investing in your education" etc.. I would count that already as a good reason, so not more to that.

Why should a women become an engineer?

There are way too little women in this field! Who cares? I do care! The world does, too! And talking about gender equality and gender pay gap, I think a lot of women do care!

Why do women not like the idea of becoming an engineer?

So I often hear complaints that a lot of women raise. Two of it might be that they are not good in maths and that they are not smart enough to be an engineer. First of all, you don't need to be good in maths to be a good engineer. Engineering has so much more to do with problem solving. So are you able to solve a problem? I guess so! So now just be creative and try to write down your plan of problem solving, the coding comes later.
Second of all you are smart! That's a fact, because you have a brain and you are able to read what I am just typing. That should be enough. The rest you can find on www.stackoverflow.com.

You need a degree to prove that you can become an engineer

I don't think so! Actually I am the proof that you don't need that. I studied geography. I have a bachelors degree. That's it. It's not rocket science. Just proof that you are eager to learn. Start with one of those million online courses that teaches how to code (for free!!!).

Get over stereotypes

Not all engineers are nerds! In fact I don't think anyone is a nerd. You are just too judgemental if you think so. And if you don't want engineers to be nerds, then you (who apparently is not a nerd) should join the team. "Be the change you want see in the world", right (M. Gandhi)?

So how to become a developer then?

  1. Motivation: I think motivation is the key to do ANYTHING. So first of all, check what you can build as a software engineer. Soon you will find out, you can do almost anything your mind can think of. That's the magic of software development!! I will give you some cool example, because this actually helped me to get into that field:
    https://maps.openrouteservice.org/ It's a project that my university started. It is like google maps, just for free. Free means it is open source. The crowd helps to develop the data and the hard working engineers try to make the algorithm to calculate getting from A to B faster. It also has a lot more options than the google engine does. E.g. whenever you want to take a bike trip from A to B and you are curious about the steepness of the route... there you go, the ORS will display it to you. And various other use cases you cannot use google for.
    So my thought process back then was (because I had an amazing colleague who was constantly pushing and empowering me):
    Me: "Cooool I can put a marker on that map?"
    Tim: "Yes, you can."
    Me: "Coooool!! And I can color that marker with the color I want?"
    Tim: "Yes, even that you can! You could actually even use an image (e.g. a heart for your favourite places) instead of a boring coloured circle."
    Me [getting excited]: "Reaaaaally??? Wooow that is so amazing!!!"
    And that is actually one of the easiest things you can do with a digital map (just google it, you will find code examples of how to do so with https://leafletjs.com/ for example).
    So basically you could create your own map with your own favourite places and look at it. You could make an app out if and share it with your friends when they want to come and visit and ask you about what they should see in this city.

  2. Skills: Do one or two online courses (any programming language that appeals to you)
    So skills are important, because you write them on a CV, right? And they kind of also show what you can do and what you know. So skills are cool. If you don't have them that's also cool. That's why we are here. Just check out some fo these platforms and do an online course:
    https://www.freecodecamp.org/
    https://www.codecademy.com/
    Actually this list exists already 1.00000000 times. Just google: "learn coding for free". You will find platforms.

  3. Register on GitHub
    If you haven't done this already, now is the time to do so! This is one of the mightiest platforms for version control of code. Remember the 90s or 00s when you forgot to save your word document and your computer got stuck and everything was lost? Yah, we've all been there. Never ever gonna happen again, when you will use git (the right way). Learn it!

  4. Join a open source project
    This one is optional. But it is a good starting point as you will have to do with real world problems, will get in contact with the community and just learn a lot.

That's it.
Now you can apply for a job!
Good luck and have fun :)

PS: I love the fact that I don't have to cite anything because I use my brain. Muhahahaha take that university!!

Posted on by:

kinas profile

Angelika Kinas

@kinas

I'm a software engineer with background in Geography

Discussion

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In my humble opinion, and using the not-always-compatible-with-software-world architecture example, almost anyone with basic bricklaying skills can build a ground floor house. You don't need any type of formal background in structure calculus, etc etc.

I mean, my grandfather built his own house and he didn't even know how to read.

That doesn't make someone an engineer. Solving problems at scale does. That's why my grandfather never called himself an architect :D.

It's sad, but now both a developer with 15 y.o. experience and a junior programmer can call themselves engineers. They can even use bigger words: architect, mogul, jedi, ninja...

Said that, if you are able to gain the right exposure and invest enough time in learning ( either via formal education, or self-taught ) you will reach a point where you'll be ready to build a skyscraper.

BTW, I believe your gender is irrelevant to the article .

 

The gender gap in our industry is HUGE and, in order to become a female software engineering, one must overcome other stereotypes that men don't usually face. As Angelika precisely pointed in the article:

So I often hear complaints that a lot of women raise. Two of it might be that they are not good at maths and that they are not smart enough to be an engineer.

I believe this is enough to point out that the gender in an article like this one is relevant.

 

I agree there's a lot of gender gap in the industry. But that will be solved with more and more knowledgeable feminine role models in STEM ( and that begins in elementary school) . And not by saying "you know what, hey women, it doesn't matter you're not good at Math, you can still be a software engineer".

I could agree with a "hey, beings, you don't really need to be good at math to do frontend development" , though.

Yes sounds great what you propose. But let's think in reality. School sucks. Why is that? Because some teachers suck. I had a great math teacher, that's probably why I loved it and even started studying it for 4 semesters.
But after doing that and now being an engineer. I feel that it is not a basic requirement. The only basic requirement is your self-esteem and willingness to learn.

You cannot expect that anyone has an amazing degree because they went to an amazing school. Not everyone is that lucky in life.

What I am trying to do here is basically being Beyonce. Gender doesn't matter. I just want to share that I am in this field. That I have a voice and that other women can follow me. If they just see articles from men they might be frightened.

That's all I'm saying.
We can talk about quality in a different article. But I did not talk about how you become the best of the best. Let's start somewhere.

Anyways I would be more than happy if you could help building this STEM in schools. Will help everyone.

And you have your opinion and I do have mine and that's ok :)
I'm happy for the feedback.

 

Yes! Gender is irrelevant. But that's the point! If it is irrelevant why are so less women with me in the team?

I don't think it is sad that a Junior Programmer and a developer with 15 years of experience can call themselves engineers. Why is that sad? Everyone has to start somewhere.
If someone wants to stress that they have more experience they can call themselves Senior or Stack or anything.

I think it really helps to call yourself what you want to become. If you cannot see yourself as an engineer how will you be able to reach there?

And speaking of names. Calling someone a junior might already affect of how they see themselves, their quality of work and their opinion. At least it was like this for me.

I feel very happy to hear the story of your grandfather. He is a doer! He did not care about how anyone would call him :)

And I completely agree, if you invest enough time and hard work, you can do anything :)

Let's do that!!

 

coding field is great because it really is what you said: it doesn't care. code is all product-driven and doesn't care what your skin color is, what your gender is, where you come from, or what your formal education is. anyone WILL find a job and be successful if you ...
... don't blame outside sources for your own lack of skill or initiative of learning
... are cooperative in teams and fair to coworkers

funny you mention the stereotypes... I've met way more crossfit athletes in software than a lot of other fields I've been around with, haha.

welcome and good luck!

 

Completely agree to what you say!
If you don't try to search for excuses for what you cannot do but rather find reasons for your success, life changes. You can be anything :-)

Haha that's so cool! Haven't had a crossfit athlete in my team yet, but still all of us are super divers. I love it.
Thanks for the positivity!

 

that's an amazing journey Angelika!

I'm also a kind of self-taught software engineer - I've graduated in Journalism.

I love the fact that you're empowering more women to the field - we DO NEED to have more of them for diversity of perspectives + professionalism improvs.

best of luck to you!

 

Thank you so much! I agree!! I feel that anyone (in this case women) who is not from this field can bring so much improvement by just having a look from a different angle.

Your story must be also really interesting! Would love to hear or read about it :)

 

In a (not-so-much) nutshell:

After graduating from Journalism in Brazil, I didn’t feel like going to the Communication business so I looked back to what passionated me in the past and started remembering the days I was programming game bots to IRC channels (I was around 13 yr old). Then, I started a kind of Java bootcamp sponsored by the state (or province) and after completing that I went to another graduation: Software Engineering.

Even before starting the classes, I’ve got an internship in one of the best SaaS companies of South-Brazil (rdstation.com) and started to really understand web development - using Ruby on Rails and jQuery that time. After 3 semesters of out-of-date content in the university, I dropped and kept working as a full-timer. 3 years later, I moved to Toronto - Canada - and got a job as a front-end developer in a bootstrapped company called EventMobi (eventmobi.com). I've just completed my first year working for them! 😁

Coool! That is super interesting! :)
My manager is also from Brazil! :)

Great spirit! Keep it :)
And good luck on your journey!

 

I totally support this every field in the world is coming to computing whether they like it or not.

I have friends who are doctors and they're learning programming not because they like it but they're compelled to as they have to complete their research.

Girls in tech are like finding Nemo on desert they're so rare. I'm happy about this change as we'll have cool work mates I'm already tired of working with XY genes.

 

Welcome to the site Angelika. All the best for your future journey.