Women In Tech Interviews
Weekly Interviews that Highlight Female Programmers
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Cara, an Atlanta based developer who's love of programming started young and who works with organizations to bring that same passion of tech to a new generation of girls!
1) What was the first thing that peaked your interest in programming?
As a kid, my mother would bring home educational software games from her school. I would play games like 'Reader Rabbit', 'ClueFinders', and 'Where in the World is Carmen San Diego'. I loved playing the games as I learned to read and do basic arithmetic, but what was even more interesting to me was how these games were created. As I got older, my interest in programming was sparked even more when I started playing Roller Coaster Tycoon and SimCity.
2) What was the first language you wrote in and (aside from ‘hello world’) what did you write?
For my senior project in high school I programmed an educational game in Visual Basic. It was a math flash card game geared towards elementary students. The user would answer a series of simple math problems and at the end, the program would tally the number of problems you answered correctly.
3) How did you learn to code and what one tip would you give for women wanting to learn?
I mostly learned to code in college. I majored in computer science and much of the programming we did was in Java and C#. Besides formal education, I bought books and found tutorials on YouTube and Google. For women learning to code, I'd definitely say focus first on the concepts and fundamentals of programming, and develop good practices. These things are essential, regardless of the language you're coding in.
4) Who is your biggest inspiration in programming?
I love the front-end so I follow a lot of what Una Kravets is doing. She's pretty awesome!
5) Any advice for women wishing to get into the field?
There's a place for you. As women, we offer very unique insights to the workplace, and they are needed. Also, don't be intimidated by STEM. Be curious and always eager to learn. Being in such a fast paced, and ever-changing field, there will always be opportunities for that. Seize them!
6) What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in STEM? How have you overcome that?
So far, my biggest challenge has been my own self-doubt. It's really easy to get too inside of your head when you see all of the things that are stacked against you. But at the end of the day, it's all about perspective. You have to see those obstacles as opportunities and know that you are capable of pushing through. This goes for the day-to-day challenges I face with the work I do, and the challenges I face as a woman in STEM.
7) In your opinion, what makes a great programmer?
To me, a great programmer involves more than just the languages you know and the algorithms you can implement. As a programmer, we're often tasked with creating solutions to make people's lives easier. It's about the problems you solve; often under great constraints, which requires a lot of creativity. The languages are just the tools.
8 ) In what ways do you believe we can interest more women and girls to join the tech industry?
I think that showing women and girls examples of where they fit in the tech ecosystem will help to heighten interest in the tech field. Every industry needs tech, and specifically, developers. Everything from education to entertainment, from medicine to finance, from government to the arts; women are needed in all of these spaces.