I recently invited to teach a free coding for women workshop in Sydney (Australia) as part of a festival. Im interested in teaching gender specific classes , I’m a vocal campaigner for women in all stem fields but Im also aware of the barriers to entry my gender provides.
- I have so many years of experience teaching html I can do it with relatively low fuss.
- I complain a lot about the lack of women in my industry and how isolated they are, I felt it was time for me to step up and do something about it. Code is gendered because those who use it cant step outside there own programming to see how gender affects all humans.
- I have had some years of teaching tec full time and felt I could do with some practice and run some experiments in learning i have years of experience teaching code but have not done many gender specific coding workshops.
The workshops were fun, my experiments worked well and clearly I got some women coding both html and css and enjoying it. however wanted to describe some random male responses that happened on the day because they remind me why I loathe my industry or some of the humans in it at times. I’ll just state that I pass as female , 40 something artsy & geeky.
attributes = “beard , dark hair, 30 something or younger ” ; attitude = “I know everything” ;
Pre workshop conversation “yeah I’m teaching a workshop on coding for women ”
gentle conversation about code ensues he codes, of course so we establish the what do you know pecking order bs.. where I establish that yes actually I’m pretty well over qualified to teach a free one and a half hour course and yes of course I already know that markup isn’t a “proper” coding language but that I’ve selected it as a good place to start for learners. (ho hum… )s..
dude1 :so what strategy are you using to specifically gender teaching code women ? (cause i’m interested )
by this stage I’ve already pegged him as somewhat passive aggressive and yet another male whoo is younger than me that thinks he knows better so rather than engaging in what would be a huge can of worms I toss him a throwaway line.
thisunit : I brought cupcakes.. they are red velvet
dude1 : mutters something about me bringing all the stereotypes …..
I shrug I’m nether willing to be challenged on my coding qualifications nor my ability to teach other females. I offer the obvious
thisunit : What can say ? I’m cisgendered female……. I guess its my privilege…. can’t win….
Conversation ends at this point he has no idea of the existential angst and process I’ve gone through to be at this point he’s part of the problem. He’s not actually interested in what barriers may prevent women from coding he’s looking for easy answers. I have a different understanding of how my gender is coded to him for me its quite complicated. Gender is performed but its also a construct programmed into me that I fight with. the construct of my gender tells me daily that other people (probably men) are better at everything than I am. The construct of my gender is like acid to self esteem and it is constant and supported by real life experience.
attributes = “blonde , 20 something ” ; attitude = “Im a real programmer” ;
dude 2 just sits in on the class – smirks a lot – takes over a female students learning as his personal project teaching her something entirely different. I’m possibly supposed to thank him for his mansplaining I saw him showing her sass which is probably not where I’d start a beginner.. but hey what would I know its only my workshop …
I wonder if other women would be that rude..
attributes = “dark hair , short beard, larger build ” ; attitude = “I’m watching you to see if your good enough” ;
Dude3 is teaching the next workshop on internet privacy leans over my shoulder looking at the html I have scribbled on post it notes he says :
Dude3: “oh html 5, i’m just checking to see if you’ve kept the presentation seperate from the structure you know proper css and stuff…”
I grumble a reply to him and pack up my notes clearing away my workshop …now your going to say #notallmen in code are dicks and sure I’ve met and worked with some male gendered humans who are for the most part not gender biased at all. However these three responses in less than 3 hours remind me my industry has a lot to learn to be even vaguely appealing to any female gendered person who is sane..
While code may be not gender biased the people who do it still are. Its enough to battle the imposter syndrome and come out as a female who codes let alone a queer one. Without being challenged in every other sentence by male programmers who may have a very poor perception of how gender and privilege work in there favour. Not to mention the it professionals who don’t bother to ask what your qualifications are but assume they know better anyhow . It’s even more annoying when they are children and you were probably producing websites when they were potty training. It’s really no wonder the women not only don’t seek stem jobs but also leave them as they grow tired of the constant bs and weirdness. In other industries and if your male age and experience count for something.
Anyhow I really enjoyed teaching the loverly women and some guys who came to the workshop. Hopefully I’ve made it easy for them to play with some code even if it’s “only mark up”and they are only women.. and I’m only playing