Most of us are attached to some form of technology at least once a day, every single day.
Us women are absolutely MASSIVE consumers of technology and yet hardly any of us know how it is made. Our gadgets are like well-loved family members. All that’s missing is the intimate knowledge.
We barely give much thought at all to what we’re using and how it actually works. I’m willing to bet you a strong cup of coffee that you don’t really know how what’s in front of you is displaying on your phone/tablet/browser. And until recently, I didn’t know either.
The tech world is primarily a man’s world. Change is coming, but not quickly enough because just 17% of UK tech workers are women. This is fundamentally not good. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe Caitlin Moran:
“If you look at the stats on coding, it’s still crackers isn’t it? That’s like if the global language was going to be Chinese, and women weren’t learning Chinese.”
Basically we all need to get on board the coding bus, pretty darn swiftly.
The UK is going to need at least another million tech workers by 2020 and it would be better for everyone if more of those workers were women.
I know what you’re thinking.
“I’m not very technical!”
“I’m worried I’ll break something!”
“I’m not clever enough for that sort of thing!”
Well, I thought ALL of these things and I have still successfully managed to learn to code.
I became technical the more ‘technical’ stuff I did. Sure, I broke some stuff but it was all entirely fixable (by me!); and anyone who has ever had a brain is most certainly clever enough to learn to code.
Here are some reasons why you, a smart and capable mother, should also learn to code:
1) Mums are fantastic problem-solvers.
Mothers encounter problems on a daily basis. From figuring out what your not-yet-verbal baby is crying about, to complex toddler negotiations, to trying to coax a tiny amount of human interaction from a grumpy teenager. It takes A LOT of mental agility to be a mother and that is exactly what you need as a coder too.
Coding and programming are essentially about finding logical answers for all manner of problems and if you’re already a mother, you can definitely do that.
2) Knowing how to code will boost your career prospects.
There is no getting away from this one. Even those in non-coding jobs will benefit from knowing some code. It is time to stop thinking of computer programming as a niche for bearded, nerdy men.
The younger generation are already a step ahead of us all in the tech game, and if you’ve had any time out of employment to do some extremely important and under-valued child-rearing, then having this additional skill is going to give you that extra edge.
Even if you’ve waved good-bye to the workplace forever, you’ll still find that knowing how to code will benefit so many other areas of your life.
Need to quickly knock up a website for the PTA?
Want to help your teenager with their Maths/Science/I.T. homework?
Hell, even putting together some of those dreadful Kinder Surprise toys together requires basic engineering knowledge.
My point is, only good things can come from learning to code.
3) Coding careers can be very flexible.
Flexible working is the Holy Grail for a lot of mothers, myself included. Let’s face, a lot of so-called ‘working hours’ are not even slightly sympathetic to those with families. And that is only the beginning.
But if you can code, then theoretically you can code anywhere and at any time. You don’t have to go anywhere specific to do your job.
Freelance and contract-based workers are innumerable thanks to the wonders of technology. It is also quite possible to earn full-time pay for part-time hours. What could be more ideal?
And with as many as 75% of working mothers willing to sacrifice salary for flexibility then learning to code seems like an absolute no-brainer.
4) Your self-esteem will grow and grow and grow.
This was an unexpected but very welcome side-effect for me.
But with every new exercise I completed and every new concept I learned, I felt substantially more intelligent than I did previously. I was unlocking secrets. I was sticking it to the patriarchy, one line of code at a time. And the high I get from writing and executing some really good code hits the parts that doing a Sudoku puzzle just never did.
Once you’ve cracked something, you’ll hanker after more. It’s utterly addictive in a totally productive way.
You will be amazed at what you can actually do and you will wonder why you didn’t before.
Where do you start?
Thankfully, there are absolutely LOADS of places you can learn to code. And some of those are even free.
I would recommend starting with HTML and CSS so you learn the fundamentals of building a web page but where you go after that is up to you!
If you’ve ever daydreamed of having your own online business or building an app then it is absolutely within your reach.
Some good places to start your coding journey are:
A completely free online resource with short exercises in an established curriculum. It’s a great introduction, and even offers certifications in things like web design and data management.
Sign up here: freecodecamp.org
You’ll find absolutely HUNDREDS of video courses on loads of different programming languages. Some are reasonably priced and some are completely free.
Have a browse: udemy.com
One of my personal favourites. You pay monthly fee and work at your own pace. There are hours of video tutorials that you can follow along with your own workspace. You can join subject-specific tracks for different coding disciplines and there is a fantastic community forum. It’s great for when you get stuck and need a little help.
What are you waiting for?