Once upon a time, about 3 years ago, I was a musical theatre actress. Yes, believe it or not, I haven’t always been a Developer Evangelist. While social media may make you believe that I’ve always spent my days coding, giving talks around the world, creating content, and organizing meet-ups… the truth is, if you met me 3 years ago, I spent most of my days auditioning, doing song & dance numbers on stage, taking lots of production photos, and organizing my 13+ hour days of a day job & rehearsal so I didn’t die of exhaustion. 💀
The world of theatre and the world of tech are vastly different. For one, you actually get paid a competitive wage for the amount of work you put into your technical roles (okay, open source is another story, but you know what I mean). Also, there are far more women in the theatre world (especially musical theatre world) than men… a stark contrast to what we see in most engineering organizations/tech companies in general. Also, people tend to dance and break into song much less frequently, but I digress…
In July of 2017, I wrote a post on Medium titled What It’s Like to Be a Woman at a Tech Conference. The article has since been viewed ~64k times, and has become the piece of writing I am most recognized for. Usually if someone says “hey you look familiar” at a conference, I do the pose (😐👍pictured below) mimicking me in a wine cave full of dudes, and they figure it out.
There’s a reoccurring theme that continues to happen to me when I go out with my partner and we happen to strike up conversation with strangers. Be it at dinner, attending a wedding as a plus one, making small talk in an elevator, and even attending a conference as a speaker:
I am rarely asked what I do for a living. 😐
I’ll paint the picture for you- here’s a picture of me and my partner at an event…
Not too long ago, I attended my first conference as an engineer. To give a bit of context, before I made my career transition into software engineering, I was a musical theatre performer. Theatre, unlike STEM, is a field that is in dire need of men. Seriously, want to do musicals? Can you kind of carry a tune? Are you a dude? You’re cast! But I digress…
So, imagine my surprise when I attended my very first engineering conference as a woman… it felt a little like this:
Here’s how my inner-monologue sounded:
“So…many…dudes… oh! Is that a woman? Hmmm, no… she’s on the catering team. Oh wait! Is that another one? NOPE just a dude with a man bun.” 😐
Let me set the scene: it was Demo Night at Hackbright Academy in late 2016 and I was SO EXCITED. If you don’t know much about software engineering bootcamps, “Demo Night” refers to the night where students present the projects they have been diligently working on for several weeks to prospective companies that are looking to hire junior engineers. The process varies by school, but our Demo Night consisted of 3 minute presentation from each student, and then 3 minute speed-dating style interviews with each company. It’s an exciting, yet stressful, night for all; for many students, it’s their first time interviewing as an engineer!
During my recent 3 month job search, one of the most frustrating parts of the interview process I ran into was being ghosted by companies. Unfamiliar with the term? Urban Dictionary defines “Ghost” as:
“To avoid someone until they get the picture and stop contacting you.
“Diversity” has been a popular buzzword these days when it comes to hiring engineers. We often hear about the need and desire to hire more women, more people of color, more people with “non-traditional” backgrounds who can help think creatively and give new insight to the industry. Here are two example candidates for you: