Female programmers have been around since forever.
But honestly, Tania still gets asked “how does it feel to be a female programmer?”.
How did she fall into the codes?
Born and raised around the iconic Toba Lake in Medan, Tania grew up dreaming to pursue statistics. The tourism town Balige defines itself distant from the buzz and clink of technology.
At that time, programming was only starting to become a trendy choice. Other girls chose to study medicine, business and tourism. She had fell for statistics, that later she left for IT.
Even for someone who enjoyed statistics, Tania used to see programming as such a complex work, not of her capacity. “Coding once looked like too much pressure. I felt like I would not last a day”, Tania reveals her past fear, “but coding is cool and full of hidden sensations”, she adds.
For Tania, coding is not that complex. To start, all you need is coming up with what you want to create out of an app. Then free tutorials from the internet can lead you to the basics of coding, she explains.
Today the 21 year old Tania finds no trouble working more than 40 man hours every week, coding. She has made peace with the term “one of the boys” attached to her.
The great testosterone hole of programming.
She admits that people often ask and wonder, often skeptically, of her choice of career. This might also be the case of the small amount of 10% GitHub users (Yes, Tania included) who reveal themselves as female.
“I think [programming] will always be hard for you that you keep on learning. That’s the thrill.” She hints that the most enduring solvers and inventors will stay, regardless of their gender.
Well, recently Smithsonian recalls how computer programming was once a very female career. Men were more trusted in the hardware development, while women were assigned to the software.
It is not an entire cold code-land after all. Mother programmer, Grace Hopper dedicated her life to turn software to be more lively. If there was anyone who worked on user-friendliness, it was her. The first to receive Computer Science Man-of-the-Year Award was also her.
The stereotype of programming as too mechanic or un-lively, unfitting for women, is a few decades behind. Even the earlier concept of Wi-Fi was co-invented by a woman. Not to mention, countless contribution of other mothers of tech.
This is a loss to the industry, not a gender.
Indonesia is no stranger to women up-front. Before Ibu Susi Pudjiastuti, younger girls seemed to belong to sturdy explorer men. Without Ibu Sri Mulyani, the heavily political world of finance might belong to business men forever.
Ibu Kartini leaves a legacy of raising questions that make changes and progress, which do not come from simplifying what is “normal”. Somebody has to point out what is wrong and this lies in the nature of “a mother, the earliest educator of human” as Kartini emphasizes.
Not to call for women-do-it-better. It is for the fact that distancing a group of gender from a certain development sector is toxic and overall a setback. There will always be a woman who rises out of the peaceful water, making great work out of these professions/industries.
“Don’t feel intimidated easily. The industry is fast moving. As fast as: this year you skill one programming language, the next year it will be useless. So you always get going for what’s next”, explains Tania hoping more younger girls will join the industry.
However, the loss remains to the industry’s and the world that needs it. Anywhere, in any industry it is a fact that for developers, of any kind, working inclusive is the key to inventions. Computer and software developers included.
Terrell J, Kofink A, Middleton J, Rainear C, Murphy-Hill E, Parnin C, Stallings J. (2016) Gender differences and bias in open source: Pull request acceptance of women versus men. PeerJ Preprints 4:e1733v2