Who Belongs in Tech
Five years ago, had anyone asked me to describe a computer nerd, I would have quickly said “White male in his early twenties, glasses, flip-flops and shorts, furiously typing away on a computer keyboard surrounded by dark-screened monitors, a liter of coke and half empty bags of Cheetos and Doritos. It turns out that I’m not the only one who feels this way and that is a huge problem. In order for us to see ourselves doing something we must first see someone who looks like us doing it. This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to do things that someone before us hasn’t done, but it’s much more difficult to do or to actualize when we can’t visualize it. If a student can identify with a teacher who teaches science, that student is more likely to pursue science of some kind the following year. Could this phenomenon explain why there are hardly any women and minorities in tech? Now days nearly everyone seems to be able to agree on this. With all the talk of diversity and equal rights many important people have taken notice of the cultural homogeneity of this industry. There is a very long way to go before the world of tech will reflect true diversity. When I became really interested in tech, the very first thing I did was look for youtube videos to watch of people who had taught themselves to code and were in the industry. I quickly noticed that I wasn’t seeing anyone who looked like me. After becoming really specific with my search query, I began to see a very small change in the diversity or what was returned in my search results. This was very disappointing. I vowed then that I would make content available when I broke into the industry, giving people who look like me hope that if I can do it, they can do it too. One of the questions I get asked most often by women curious about getting into tech is “Do I need to be good at math?” I will answer that by saying that I was barely an average math student in high school. I may have taken two or three math classes over the past decade of which I had to take remedial classes in preparation because I didn’t remember anything it was required for me to know. But the real answer to that question is surprisingly this: You don’t need to know much of anything to be a web developer, you just need to know how to find the answers to what you don’t know. In this industry you’ll never stop learning so if learning is something you’re drawn to you will love web development. If you google the answer to random questions that you don’t know, or you google check other peoples “facts” you will love web development. If you find that learning new things cause you to go down a rabbit hole of information until you are satisfied with your level of knowledge on that topic you will love web development. It really is that simple. The capacity to learn is something that we all have. If you are aware of that capacity and you have a desire to pour knowledge into that bottomless pit, you will instantly fall in love with web development.
Whether you want to uncover the secrets of the universe, or you just want to pursue a career in the 21st century, basic computer programming is an essential skill to learn.