Dear Female Programmer…
The first time I applied for a programming job in Zambia, my interviewer straight up told me, “Well you seem to know what you’re doing but I’m reluctant to hire because you’re a woman and women just aren’t as tech savvy as men”. Yeah, that happened.
I’ve been writing code for a few years now and as a female programmer who has worked on projects of different sizes with teams of different sizes, one thing that has stood out to me is the complete absence of a female presence in this field. Choosing to be a coding woman can get very lonely and the prejudice that comes with it becomes uncomfortably familiar.
I find myself constantly having to prove my skills way more than men ever need to. I work twice as hard and am twice as motivated but if I ever admit to having a problem, it’s assumed that that’s because my sex makes me less skilled.
Of course my experiences haven’t been particularly terrible. As a matter of fact, apart from the loneliness, its been almost enjoyable. But I’ve heard the stories from other women that irk me.
If your path to coding has been like mine or even worse than mine then this letter is for you. Its for those women who love to code but are thinking of quitting because they are tired of the sexism. Its for the women who can’t seem to get that programming job despite being more qualified and skilled than the man who actually gets it.
Its for the woman who feels frustrated because she can’t seem to get promoted in her career. Heck, she can’t even be trusted to lead a project!
You are getting tired of always being the only woman on the team. You are tired of being added to the team mainly for a little diversity not solely based on skill. You are always mistaken for a graphic designer or tech support.
You’re the woman who has given ideas during meetings only to be ignored, and for a male coworker to repeat them verbatim, successfully.
This is for her who is treated a little inappropriately by male counterparts because she is just not taken as seriously.
This letter is a plea to you, dear female programmer, this industry might have cut you down over and over and I can’t promise that it will stop soon or even ever. But I can guarantee that it does get easier. The hate eventually becomes a faint whisper that you learn to ignore. If you truly are passionate about programming, I promise that you would regret giving it up someday if you do. It does get easier. You might have to prove yourself to shut them up but once you do, they won’t forget.
The world’s first machine algorithm was written by a woman, Ada Lovelace. Grace Hopper wrote the first compiler and invented the concept of high level programming languages. Sara Haider, Jade Raymond, Amanda Wixted, Tracy Chou, Corrine Yu are some of the many famous female programmers who are icons in this field. You can be one too.
These women did not let the men tease them or take advantage of them. They developed thick skin. You should too. Because this industry needs you. It needs your skill. Hell, it needs you MORE because study shows that women write better code than men.
So lets not leave it to the men. Please don’t give up on us. Remember that you are never alone. You won’t be alone. I’ll be right there with you. And when all is said and done, we can stare at our millions and laugh at the memory of that first guy who ever told us a woman couldn’t do it.