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We interviewed 14 women in programming; here's what they said about their space

By Guest Post | 05 March 2020


Are you a woman with a knack for technology? 

Maybe you are feeling stuck in your current career and are looking for something new? 

You may want to consider a career in programming or developing. 

This rewarding career is set to grow as technology continues to intertwine with our daily tasks. Whether you want to learn about coding, developing websites or programming languages (such as C++, JS, Ruby, Python, SQL, PHP), there are many job opportunities that can open up for you

Starting a new career can be daunting, so it is great to have insights from experts to weigh in on how best to get started, and explain the ups and downs of this industry.  And best of all, they can bring a woman perspective to the table that you can personally relate to. Feel confident about beginning a new path, and understand whether you would be a good fit for this type of work.

How to get started as a programmer or developer

woman programmer working on laptop

A programmer or developer job may sound like the right move for you, but how do you get started? Firstly, it is important to understand the different types of job in this area. A programmer writes code to instruct computers and devices, whereas a web developer builds a website design through the appropriate code. Similarly, a software developer creates computer software for individuals to use by taking a design or concept and writing their own code that tells the computer how to execute it.
 
If you are wondering when programming originated, it may surprise you that the first programmer was a woman, Ada Lovelace. Despite setbacks of tutors deeming maths and science as unsuited subjects for women to learn, she became a great talent in these areas. She serves as a great inspiration for women programmers today, as her instructions for the first computer program were written in the mid-1800s. The lesson here is that if you want to be a programmer, you can make it happen with some determination
 
In terms of getting started, for some experts, working with computers was not their original intention, “Computer science was never my dream job, I wanted to be an artist...In this field, there is a mix of coding and creation, I feel like an artist - and I feel good about the work I do. I can see the product and the colours I'm creating.” says Nancy Hesham, Front-End Developer at Best Response Media
 
For others, it is the personal bottlenecks they found in their day-to-day operations that led them to realise creating computer software can increase efficiencies and transparency, “After realising it was not going to change, I decided to do it myself! I was not sure what my expectations were at the start. The reality of resigning and starting a tech company as a non-tech founder changes every day as the business changes and grows, but even in my most challenging times it felt reciprocal—the more I put in, the more I keep getting out” - Megan Avard Founder and CEO of SurePact
 
For the self-starters, this career begins through learning coding languages and completing online courses, “I started to learn coding through various online tutorials, and would spend nights completing all the different programming exercises. I was desperate to learn. After working for a longer period on my final year project, I realised I am confident to work on this technology and its framework.” - Shagun Chauhan, Business Consultant, iFour Technolab Pvt Ltd - Blockchain Software development company.

Get Started as a Programmer

Signs this is the Career for you

  • When you see that a change needs to be made, you do it yourself
  • You like a mix of technical skills and artistic design creation 
  • You are interested in computers and coding 
  • You are interested in designing 
  • You are interested in continually learning in an evolving industry 
  • You are a problem solver 
  • You like flexibility
“I think that “technical” things were always my passion. I had math abilities and I was always interested in my father’s work, as he is an electronics engineer. I loved designing, building and fixing things, no matter the material – and that’s what programming is to me, where the code is ‘the thing’.”- Żaklina Data, Software Developer at Oro Inc.

“I feel happy when I'm doing my work. Even if I'm tired, I'm not exhausted. I'm excited to learn more and more in my professional area, and I never stop learning. I like to see the results of my work, and I want to hear good references for my job from happy clients.” - Larysa Koziarivska, Front-end WP Developer at Lemon.io

“I always enjoyed coding, but never thought that you could do that as a career. So I skilled myself up enough to be employable” - Olivia Nicholls, Junior Developer at Zeal

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Challenges as a woman programmer or developer

“The main challenge with this industry is to keep up with the technology. It evolves very rapidly and if you want to be a good programmer, you will never stop learning. I managed to become a more experienced developer and simultaneously pursue my passions.” - Żaklina Data, Software Developer at Oro Inc.

Similarly, there are challenges with gaining familiarity with the tools of the industry, “The biggest challenge I’ve faced is learning the ins and outs of web development that go beyond just coding. There are tools and systems that need to be used to manipulate the code… figuring it all out took a lot of work." -  Olivia Nicholls, Junior Developer at Zeal

When it comes to diversity, Nancy Hesham, Front-End Developer at Best Response Media said, “Until joining my current firm, I was the only woman”. On the other hand, Evgeniya Orehova, IT infrastructure administrator at Oro Inc explained being a woman helped her stand out amongst other candidates, “I didn't have to break any walls, didn't face a lack of understanding of employers, any inequality or injustice. On the contrary, companies always looked with interest at a female candidate for the position”. 

What does it take to be successful?

woman programmer working on laptop and desktop computer

Being successful as a woman programmer or developer comes down to your ability to continuously learn in an ever-developing industry. Whether you are working as a freelancer or in a team, you should always keep your goals in mind and be realistic about how long tasks will take. These are the common themes amongst industry professionals, here is what they had to say:

“I make an effort to surround myself with positive people who know what I do not know, so I can learn from them... I have also found that being successful requires you to set goals, have a vision and bring your team along the strategic journey with you.” - Megan Avard,  Founder and CEO of SurePact.

“To be successful in this industry, I believe you have to stand out and share your unique voice. You  also must be willing to put in the hours and time to continuously grow in your development skills. Website design trends and different coding practices are constantly shifting - so it's important to maintain a firm grasp on what the current knowledge base is.” - Sam Munoz, CEO and Wordpress Developer at Sam Munoz Consulting, LLC

Elena Roig (Public Relations Manager at Solodev) and Ella Panchishyna (Senior Web Developer at Lemon.io) both agree that you need to study and learn to keep up with the constant shifts in technology and best practices of the industry, from coding languages to software updates. “The main thing is to study and learn because technologies are racing forward very quickly,” said Ella, and Elena agreed that, “you need to dedicate time to do some tutorials, practice or even take some courses; learning something new every day”. 

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Comments on the future of this space

The future of programming is set to expand as individuals gain greater access to data. With greater data, more efficient processes are created, and knowledge sharing becomes more important. There are estimates for new programming languages to develop on a universal scale, and the integration of AI has already begun. 
 
Stacy Caprio, Founder of Accelerated Growth Marketing, explains that “the future of the space is open to anyone who wants to learn and new tools keep making it easier for anyone to create sites”. Anne Miles, Marketing Strategist at Suits&Sneakers agrees that “the way forward is to congregate as a collective rather than get lost as an individual as more can be gained together” in terms of information sharing. 
 
Of course, there has been an increase in women embarking into this industry, especially now knowing how beneficial it will be in our technologically growing world. With more opportunities for learning available with online programs, forum topics, and conferences around the world, now is a great time to get involved if you are considering this career.
 
In regards to the future of this space, Anita Nowak, Web Developer at Cut2Code suggests that “women in IT will definitely come. There are plenty of courses that allow you to acquire knowledge in a given topic, just do not be discouraged at the beginning. There are also many communities that encourage women into STEM”. Emily Wells Jiménez, Digital Project Manager at Forix agrees that she sees “the developer role continues to be an in-demand position that companies look to hire. I hope to see more women come into these roles to help with the diversity”. 
 
There are working options for everyone. Whether you run your own web development company, freelance, or are a part of the IT team of a multinational company, you can decide what suits your lifestyle. As a woman, you can achieve greatness within the programming and web developing industry
 
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