The journey of a Developer that has the pleasure and gratitude of having WordPress as a resource.
Who am I and am I good?
We define ourselves in order to navigate life. Like we brand our business or our clients’ websites, we brand ourselves. Remember to define yourself, because others are always going to define you. Be true to yourself.
I recall the scene in the movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Herrington where he’s improving her social standing. At the end his manners are called into question. He says,
“You see, the great secret, Eliza, is not a question of good manners or bad manners, or any particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls. The question is not whether I treat you rudely, but whether you’ve ever heard me treat anyone else better.”
We are all the same, yet different. We all hurt and desire, yet what we are motivated by may be different. Be true to yourself to follow what you know is meant for you. Trust in the journey. For it is the journey, not the destination, that not only makes up one’s day, but ultimately defines us once we have arrived!
Embrace Your Uniqueness
When I was in sixth grade, the yearbook asked us what we would like to accomplish. While most of the girls wrote modeling or acting (we are in Southern California after all), I wanted to discover a new animal.
Discovery has always been one of my passions. WordPress has been a way to discover new ways to combine code to ‘make things happen’ by creating plugins. WordPress has provided a place to practice the developer’s craft. I’m a working dev and I have a lot of gratitude to give the WordPress community.
I have been given time, support, and much patience. The Meetups have provided a place to gain the ground work, providing an awareness of current tech issues and best practices to put in place, to ensure site performance.
“It takes courage to try and fail and fail again. Practice the art of asking lots of questions.” Remember, “sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of, that do the things that no one could imagine.” So even if someone questions your work, whether you could ever possibly have done that or do that, keep going.
Imagine an engineer writing a program, a developer creating an application, and a social media specialist crafting creative content. Do you see them at their desks? What does the engineer look like? What does the developer look like? Did you picture them as a female? Typically not. Perhaps the one crafting creative content was pictured as female.
Rarely is a developer or engineer pictured as being female or looking anything like me. We need to change that.
It’s been proven that when given identical resumes with name either David or Maria, the hiring committee will determine David to be identified as more qualified every time. Maria’s accomplishments had to be two times better before she is seen as equally qualified as David.
We, both men and women, hold ‘implicit biases.’ It is a cultural thing. Men are seen as a more qualified developer. Acknowledging this is the first step.
What can we do to help turn this around? First, let’s visit why we should turn this around.
Reason for Diversity (Focusing on Women in Engineering)
We are facing real, large complex problems as a community that requires developers to figure out. Specifically, in the WordPress world, we need a platform, as well as themes and plugins, that appeals to a large audience. True innovation requires a diverse team. It will ensure that different viewpoints, ideas, and solutions are discovered.
Women are an asset to the team, especially in the role of developer. Consider the fact that many women are making the buying decisions. A woman developer helps create a product that appeals to a larger audience, which ultimately affects sales. Female developers bring insight to the possibilities of products that are currently missing and overlooked.
How do we change this? Hire more women developers. Make it a point to include, describe, and depict developers as women in marketing materials. Encourage women to apply for developer positions.
If you’re female reading this and you like to problem solve and build things, give development a try.
Just because things are the way they are doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Typically, women aren’t developers but that can change. WordPress is a community where women developers thrive. WordPress is stronger as a community because of its diversity of users and creators. We all benefit from diversity. By having diversity within our community, we grow. We build. Ultimately, we create more opportunity for all.
Some Obstacles Facing Women In STEM
Woman as developers are viewed as being different. Many are questioned why they are doing this. Women will even be treated at as if they shouldn’t be there. Women are conditioned from a young age to be princesses, not engineers.
Developers are competitive, like great writers. Competitiveness for the best projects is part of the game. This game is not something that females are ‘taught’ or necessarily have experience in. Men joke with each other differently than women do. Entering the environment from a female perspective, it may seem aggressive and uninviting.
It helps to have experience in team sports to help to manage and navigate the competitive male dominated culture of the field.
Another way to ensure success is to join a group that supports women in tech. It will help to deal with issues that arise and gain confidence in an industry that is dominantly male. Typically, women and men communicate differently. Also, I find it a way to relax and relate without needing to worry about so many other unrelated issues. It provides a platform to discuss issues like family, which many times a big impact on a woman’s career — especially when she has children.
Balancing being feminine in a male dominated field can be difficult. According to Marilyn vos Savant, the person with the highest IQ at 200 and famous advice writer, women who play up their sexual attractiveness make themselves appear ‘lightweight’ and lose ‘parity’ with men. This is not okay since a woman faces pressure in society to look attractive and be nurturing. This is similar to how men are valued by being a provider. This is a real dichotomy. Women are not allowed to be seen as sexually-attractive and competent. It is as if there’s a choice to be made. That is a real problem.
What the WordPress Community has Done for Me
WordPress community was a discovery of people who are curious and solve technical questions. Over the years, it has grown more and more an emphasis on marketing and business element driving the community culture. As WordPress grows and continues to grow in popularity, more and more opportunities emerge for all.
I found the community to be a place to bring questions. It has been a place to find inspiration and to inspire others in my professional journey as a developer. The community has helped me to develop the courage and determination to secure a position as a developer. The WordPress community has been a resource of a network of individuals to turn to for help. It is an open source and sharing community with many talented people.
Resources drawn from:
Ted Talks | Inspiring the next generation of female engineers | Debbie Sterling
Elizabeth Shilling, a developer with a degree in psychology with a social, developmental emphasis from UC Santa Barbara, specialized in biological sciences, computer science, business, and teaching. Looking at differences between men and women in math and sciences bloomed during research as an undergrad. It was determined to be cultural, not biological. Social expectations dominate the direction of female students away from engineering sciences rather than intellectual capabilities. She loves coffee and the ocean.