Coding for girls

Coding

I’m starting a new coding course tomorrow and I thought this next series of blog posts could be about this six-week experience I am about to embark on. I applied for the course because it was free and I wanted to learn how to become a front-end web developer. The course is hosted by CodeFirst:Girls and is aimed at helping women get into the tech industry.

What does this mean?

Well, for those of you who don’t work in “digital” for a living (i.e. web-based communications), front-end web development just refers to being able to make websites look nice and make them easy to use (as opposed to being overly concerned with the technical structure of the website). The tech industry is defined by WikiInvest as:

The technology industry provides the basis for chip production, information and communication systems, and computer systems. These companies serve as the developers and manufacturers of the products which drive the increasing efficiency and production of cell phones, computers, televisions, as well as other communication and information systems.

This definition was surprisingly hard to find on Google, suggesting that not all that many people would be familiar with the tech industry, and it has yet to be culturally validated.

The definition also doesn’t really mean anything to me, and I would probably translate it to: the creative industries relating to information, communication and gaming technologies; e.g. smartphone apps, social media platforms, or e-learning gaming software.

Interestingly, it was included as part of the umbrella of the “Creative Industries” that was defined by the British Council, and from what I could determine through the hail of jargon, it is related to cultural and intellectual capital within the economy that has the ability create jobs and wealth.  

Further, and not surprisingly, all of this “tech” talk can sound pretty terrifying, and I was just sort of wondering why that is.

I think it might be related to the fact that technology is such a pervasive part of our lives now, from miniature touch-screen computers, to contactless payments, to sat nav, and yet very few of us actually understand these technologies.

Crossing boundaries

As a writer first and foremost, I have been accustomed to manipulating words as part of the system of language, to achieve goals such as conveying meaning, creating beauty, inspiring emotions or exorcising emotional ghosts.

All that sounds very human and accessible to me, and to strip way the emotive element and just consider strings of characters for a technical purpose once seemed totally alien. It obviously doesn’t anymore, evidenced by the fact that I applied for this course.

I think this prior mental hurdle relates a lot to being a girl, and the tacit assumption that anything requiring technical understanding necessitates a significant lack of estrogen.

This attitude isn’t just limited to tech, but extends to areas like finance, economics, engineering, science, or anything outside the realm of “the humanities”.

Women are generally socialised to believe that something about the structure of their gender is incompatible with learning anything impersonal, rational, neutral or objective: therefore being cut off from careers in anything to do with technology.

The truth about technology

This is a huge shame because technology is actually very emotive.

For example, the idea that people from every country and section of their society can connect in a global network is amazing. Our concept of time has been warped and sped up, with news spreading in seconds. Space has contracted, and you can befriend someone living thousands of miles away, share their cat’s antics, or read someone’s deepest thoughts on their blog. Communications and media are much more (though not perfectly) democratic, with an internet connection all you need to reach an audience of millions.

Human ingenuity means that we have taken electricity and circuitry, wires and metal, and turned them into something that would have been unfathomable – i.e. a computer – just fifty years ago.

In the same way it used to be almost unthinkable for a woman to work in an office at the turn of the twentieth century, women now find it hard to enter the newly-developed tech industry – for reasons to do with lack of skills and confidence that are simple (and yet often difficult) to rectify.

I’m looking forward to taking this course and being part of something really wonderful.

CatherineCatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Images: Unsplash

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