In spite of ongoing activism efforts to shatter the glass ceiling and raise awareness about gendered discrimination across fields, women face continued pay disparity, workplace harassment, and often little recognition for their contributions to their industries. Today, The Practical Dev stands in solidarity with the many women and non-binary individuals in our community for International Women’s Day.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had arrived on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2017 to debate the confirmation of attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. To make her stand, Sen. Warren had brought with her a letter written by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, before she could finish reading King’s rebuke, Sen. Warren was silenced by Republican leaders.
“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, later defending the action. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” That phrase has since been reappropriated as synonymous with the ongoing fight for equality and social justice. And it’s an apt metaphor for the same silencing that’s been present throughout the history of women in computer science.
Gender inequality has permeated the technology and computer science fields since their earliest beginnings. Coders of all stripes are familiar with the many manifestations of gendered oppression in tech. But make no mistake—without the contributions of women coders past and present, we would be nowhere near where we are today.
On this day, we acknowledge the achievements of the women of our own community, many of whom continue to face inequality and oppression in our field. We would like to take this day to commend those accomplishments and stand with women as they make their voices heard.
Despite continued assaults on the credibility of her contributions to modern computer science as the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace coded.
Despite a failing of formal recognition from the technology community for their achievements for more than 50 years, the women of ENIAC coded.
Despite a pointed oversight of her accomplishments as a US admiral and the inventor of the first compiler, Grace Hopper coded.
Despite facing little acknowledgement for decades of her contributions to Apollo 11's successful moon landing, Margaret Hamilton coded.
Despite facing sexism, continued abuses, and threats in her workplace, Susan Fowler coded.
We are getting better at recognizing the historical accomplishments of women in computer science, but it’s time we cut through the institutional blockades and sexist rhetoric that continue to dissuade women from pursuing careers in software engineering. Be it our contemporaries or predecessors, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the many achievements of these women and create environments in which women are able to flourish in leadership roles.
A number of women in our field have contributed their stories on dev.to today. We invite developers who identify as women to share their stories either on our platform or with the Twitter hashtag #SheCoded—or both.
Take your laptop to the coffee shop and code in public. The more you do it, the less people wonder where all the women be at.
This first language I learned was BASIC! Lol. I loved the rush of sitting over a problem for a long time and then finally figuring out the solution. I was hooked.
I got married, bought a house, had a son, but it wasn't until I had my daughter that it really hit me. How am I going to be the parent and role model I want to be for her, if I don't follow my passion? I want her to become an independent, driven, tenacious woman, and I knew that I had to show her by my actions.
Unfortunately while in uni, my interest in programming dwindled. I still loved the tech industry in general, so I thought I would end up somewhere in technical project management, or UI/UX design, or… anything but programming really. Luckily, somewhere in my third year of uni, my interest in programming was sparked again when I discovered the Django Girls open-source blog tutorial, which helped me learn Python and Django. I haven't looked back since!
I've wanted to start my own business but I kept waiting for the right time, the right experience, and so on. I have the huge advantage of having the ability to create most software products. I am learning the business side as I go. Now that I've started down this path, I wish I started sooner.
I'm currently hacking on a robot that can play the ukulele! I'm in the midst of writing a talk for self.conference about integrating your outside passions with your coding practice. I am a classically trained cellist so I wanted to write about combining my passions with music and my passion for coding. Originally, I thought about having the robot play cello but decided that ukulele would be much easier.
Find the thing that excites you- be it a technology, an optimization, or a programming paradigm. Coding takes diligence, time, and sticking to it through the problems. Finding something you're enthusiastic about can stave off burn-out and rejuvenate you even when it gets tough.