#ChangeTheRatio - More Voices In STEM

"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
- Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

Not so long ago, I jumped out of my comfort zone and into a group of lady developers, developers-to-be, and even a few testers, like me, in that group of women at a meetup, all hoping to make a difference in the day-to-day practices of software development. 

That group was Women Who Code. I also have to acknowledge that I wouldn't have thought to do that without the stalwart support Ministry of Testing, another group, run and promoted by a woman named Rosie Sherry. That group is constantly pushing forward creating a presence and acceptance of the testing profession as something valid in the software development world, and they are huge advocates of inclusion of women into the testing/development arena.

I'm on a Skype channel which has voices and new ideas from a wonderful group of ladies every day. They are from all walks of life, all over the planet; a 24/7 channel of ideas and support for women working in the testing profession and the tech industry. They advocate, discuss and disagree and have a large amount of hope for the future. I think most women do. 

From the young 20-something navigating a world, to the 40-year-old professional looking at reinventing herself, to the retired woman who did the work, got little recognition for it, and is still active in the community, we all want to change STEM for the better.  

Today, I applied for CodingHouse developer scholarship. It's a 14 week in-house program in which you live, eat and breath coding.

Testing is changing. And unfortunately, many of us are finding we aren't changing with it. Or as fast as we would hope. It's the classic problem of learning and working at the same time. The one that feeds you is going to get the priority over the one that extends what might feed you. 

It's not that I haven't been trying to learn, but I feel like the minute I focus on one thing, the next thing is hitting the shelves and then the next. I'm excited about these changes, and excited it's getting easier and easier to learn how to do all of these things. 

But what should I learn? Is Java more important than Ruby? Should I focus on back-end services or front end tech? Can I learn it all and still do a good job? Do I focus on this one thing, and learn it completely, or can I take concepts and move them from one thing to the next? 

I feel like I'm missing the Rosetta Stone here where coding languages are concerned. I feel like I'm being aged out of an industry I've loved for years. But I'm out here, pushing, trying and continuing because I can't stop - won't stop. I love this too much to stop. 

If you're out there, whether you're young or old and love this industry, tell your story. Get it out there, let other people, especially women, know they aren't alone. It may take time, but it's going to happen. Women are here to stay and they aren't giving up hope.


  1. I think this is fantastic Melissa!

    Too often we get so caught up with the perfect way to do something that we never get started. I find that the rich just get richer analogy works with code too. Once someone knows one language at a minimum level, they are less scared to pick up the second one. And once they have picked up two to a basic level (especially if they are different types - http://www.cprogramming.com/langs.html), they are so much more prepared (and confident) to pick up whatever else is thrown their way.

    I think that the most empowering and valuable thing I ever did was get a web page up and running on heroku in a couple of hour workshop. I still had (and have) SO much to learn from server hosting to front end design and everything in between. But it proved to me that I could get something done and that the world didn't end when I got something wrong or left something less than perfect.

    Best of luck with CodingHouse, and I hope that with or without that program you pick a path and just run with it!

  2. Abby,
    Thanks for your comment! I wasn't awarded the scholarship at Coding House, but I think the opportunity I have in front of me now is exactly what I need. It feels, right.


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