It is no secret that the world of tech is pretty heavily male dominated. When you conjure up an image in your mind of the type of person that writes code for a living, you might think of some nerdy guy who spends their entire day (and night) in front of a computer who is not in touch with the real world, but that is not really an accurate description of a programmer or web developer. Not everyone is like that. For a start, some of us are female.
Okay, not that many of us are female, but some are, and it is about time we broaden our daughters perceptions of what it means to be a coder. I think most people can see that an ability to code is going to be a highly desirable skill to have in the future (if not a necessary one), so we need to get girls interested in coding.
So here we go... reasons why I love to code (and why your daughter might love it too!)
1. It is both creative and technical
You might think coding is a purely technical, logical activity, but that is far from the truth. For every problem or challenge you face there will be multiple ways of solving it. Coding frequently pushes you to think 'outside the box' to solve complex problems. You get to be creative in how you can solve your problem in the most efficient way possible.
If you get into front-end web development, you get to be creative in all sorts of ways. You might receive a graphic design of a website from a designer that will often be a static image of how the site should look, but a website is not static. A website is interactive, a website can be animated, a website can do stuff, it is nothing like a brochure that the static file may be reminiscent of. So you get to take that static design and add some flair to it. You might animate the logo or create a fully animated scene. You might look for new and creative ways to display the site on both a smartphone and desktop, and for original ways to show something is being hovered over.
2. It is always evolving
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a bit of a boredom issue when it comes to work. The last ten years of my life I have been building websites, but before that I used to chop and change my job all the time, primarily because I got bored. I have zero official qualifications for website design / development, I do however have a Bachelor of Business (Marketing), I am a fully qualified Beauty Therapist and Nail Technician (bit of a joke considering how badly I bite my nails...), I have worked in sales, admin, FMCG, cutting peoples gas off, retail... You name it, I've probably done it. When I first finished high school I was also enrolled to study Ancient History and Anthropology. Nothing ever really kept me entertained long enough to stick with it (side note: my second longest job was selling fish in a Coles Supermarket for 7 years whilst I was in school / uni).
That is until I learnt to code. After ten years of building websites I still learn something new on every single site I build. Every one, without fail. You can not become complacent in this industry, you really do need to continually learn in order to keep up. It is always a challenge, there is always something that you could do better, and there are always new technologies emerging that you can focus on. The very first websites I built were probably about 800px wide in a central box, that had its own custom built CMS (that was dreadful!). They did not work on smartphones, because smartphones did not exist and if you wanted to get fancy you used 'Flash' (here is the one and only dinosaur of mine that still survives!). Now I never build my own CMS (thankfully), or use Flash (although Flash was fun to do). Everything I build looks great on a phone, and a tablet, and a desktop. I consider things like accessibility and web speed, content and seo. All stuff I might not have thought about before.
At the moment I am deciding what I want to learn next. Will it be React or Vue? Maybe I will have a crack at Shopify or Drupal or extend my interest in Web Accessibility. I am not sure at the moment, but there are plenty of options to keep me from getting bored.
3. It is a supportive, helpful community
I taught myself to code. Initially it is very difficult to teach yourself something like coding, because you don't know what you don't know. You just kinda Google away until you figure out what something you need to know is called. From there you are set. Stack Overflow must be every developers best friend. If the answer you seek is not there, that would be pretty surprising. The web development community actively helps their peers out, freely. There are endless forums and communities with people all willing to help others learn how to solve their current programming puzzle.
4. Ugg boots and thongs (of the flip flop variety for Americans)
Learn to code and you can work from home easily. For anyone, this can be a plus, but for women this would be great if you were wanting to have children and a career and you are not blessed with a stay at home Dad for said kid. Right now it is a 35 degree (celsius) day in Perth Australia and my work attire consists of a a t-shirt, shorts and thongs. In winter a tracksuit and Ugg boots are pretty standard attire. I get to work comfortably! No commute, no breathing in sick folk germs on the train, no traffic and my dog hangs out with me all day! What more could I wish for?
5. You get exposed to different industries
This is not so much coding specific, but web development. I have worked on projects across so many industries and it is always interesting to learn about them. I have built websites for naturopaths, physios, day spas, pole dancing studios, construction, childcare, wineries, personal trainers, government agencies, political parties, charities, local councils and so much more I can not even remember! I work with people in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and even New York. I get to meet a lot of people and I get to learn about so many different businesses.
6. Work never seems to dry up
How many businesses do you think need a website? 'Most businesses' is probably the answer here, consequently it is pretty rare for me to run out of work. Sometimes I actively wish for it! The flip side of the coin is of course 'burn out', but that is a subject for a whole other article! Learn to code and you will probably always be employable. Even if you opt to change career paths, the skills you need to code effectively will always come in handy. Coding is problem solving. It is a logical sequence of steps to get you from A to B. For code to work, you need to have attention to detail. A rogue comma or missing semi colon can easily break things, so attention to detail is a must. Problem solving, attention to detail and logic are frequently things employers in all industries are looking for.