There have been a lot of stories in the news about gender issues in the tech world. The Ellen Pao case. Gamergate. The dongle joke at Pycon. The gender gap in the tech industry. The list goes on and on. And now today, an LA Times article came out asking why women are leaving the tech industry.
I am 100% a woman and 100% a programmer. And I am not going anywhere.
Of the stories I have been reading about women in tech, many seem to have a sub-theme that we should be able to embrace our techie-ness and our girly-ness. That it is OK to wear a dress and cute heels, putt makeup on, and fix up my hair. That this will send a signal that it is OK to be girly and be a tech geek.
And it is OK to be girly and be techie… as long as that is who you actually are.
My style is really not. I have (many, many) days I just want to wear yoga pants and and a tank top and call it good. If it weren’t for corporate dress codes, that outfit would happen way more often. I also wear - and even (mostly) like - dresses. But on those days, I also make jokes about how I’m not wearing any pants.
I don’t like spending that much time getting ready in the morning because, frankly, I have better things to do. I don’t wear makeup and my hair is always in a ponytail because it is easy. And while I wear dresses, anyone will tell you that I will happily sit on the floor in that dress as long as I’m pretty sure I won’t flash someone.
My first little kid crush was not even human. (That has not changed much as an adult.) I would rather see a sci-fi movie than a romantic comedy. Although to be honest, I would rather go to a football game than the movies. I make crude jokes because, every so often, I have the sense of humor of a 13-year old. I joke about having gone to a boys school because I basically did. I am more comfortable around guys than I am around girls because I am blunt and (for the most part) so are they.
Getting back to coding.
I started writing code when I was 7, despite the fact that I grew up in the ’80s and that was weird back then. It was an Apple iiC and I quickly learned that turning it on without a disk would get me to a BASIC prompt. (You always remember your first.) One thing lead to another and now I have been coding professionally for over 15 years.
Most people take me seriously as a programmer, but I still come across some who get weirded out because I ”don’t look like a programmer.” I look too nice or too put together or too girly. As though, the programmer uniform somehow still consists of jeans, old t-shirts, mad scientist hair, and no breasts.
I ignore those weirded out people because they don’t fit into my life.
I have pretty much constructed my life and career around what feels right. Yes, that is a little hippie for a programmer, but it has worked well. If a job feels right, I stay. If not, I don’t. Same with people. If a person feels right (friend or otherwise), we stay. If not… sorry. Life is too short to act otherwise.
So… who am I?
I am a woman. I am a professional geek. I am girly and not girly at the same time. I am who I am - quirks and all - and I own every quirk that I have. And every other geek/nerd/techie/whatever - female or not - should do the same.
Cross-posted on Medium @ (https://medium.com/@jonihalabi/about-this-tech-girl-ae941e9ffd91)