As I was growing up, when I was asked what I wanted to become, it started off as a 👸🏽princess, then a 🚗car racer, a 👩🏽🏫teacher, an 🧾accountant, but never did I once say any type of engineer.
You see the thing is, I’d never really seen any girls operate computers or build bridges. I knew what the world taught me - pink is for girls, we play with princesses, and maybe half day jobs with holidays are best.
I didn’t learn to program from an early age and I didn’t know anyone that did, in fact to be honest I didn’t know what programming entailed.
Almost a decade later... and I'm a software engineer at DEV, a company whose mission I believe in, I speak at conferences about the things that I love, and I run a non profit organisation to help others. I'm not a princess, but I am someone that has mapped out her own journey and worked really hard to get there, so maybe I could be my own superhero?
Nevertheless, how did I get from wanting to be a princess to becoming a software engineer?
- Firstly, I have parents who didn't limit me. They let me choose the career path that I wanted to even though I really had no clue what Computer Science was, but they let me explore and knew I would find my path.
- I worked really really hard. It wasn't always easy. Coming from a non-coding background, I felt like I lagged behind with understanding certain coding concepts at university, because it was assumed that I had done coding at school. Whilst I was learning what an if statement was, the curriculum dictated that we built web sockets already.
- Once I was in the industry I didn't let being the only women in the room stop me. Yes, it was difficult, and I had to prove myself over and over, but I did it until I no longer needed to.
- I learned and forced myself out of my comfort zone - the bigger the challenge, the more I wanted to achieve it.
- And finally, I let myself be inspired by others in the industry. I took on mentors when I felt that I needed guidance, and I asked for help when I was lost. I contributed where I could.
There are still challenges that I'm overcoming on a daily basis but I finally believe that we can overcome them together as an industry. Each day in the smallest of actions, I strive for a world where:
- everyone gets paid equally, based on their skills and NOT their gender.
- a women in the boardroom no longer has to prove herself, in order to get her voice heard.
- tech conferences are filled with diversity and the excuse is no longer, 'but we couldn't find a women'.
- the working environment is tailored to suit the needs of both men and women.
I believe that over the last decade we have made progress, but we still have a long way to go. It is with constant awareness and small changes that lead to bigger ones that we can get there.. together. On that note, Happy International Women's Day!💜