One Woman’s Journey To Becoming A Software Developer
3:30 pm, January 10th | by Beth Devin, Manilla.com
It’s the New Year, which means every blog and news site out there is publishing its “Top 10” lists for 2012 and 2013 on anything and everything, from top 10 gadgets to top 10 recipes to top 10 athletes.
The one that caught my eye was a Forbes article on the top 10 jobs for 2013. Leading the list is — drum roll, please — software developer. The number of software developer jobs has grown 7 percent since 2010, and it’s expected to jump 30 percent by 2020, according to the article. And, the national average salary for software developers is just more than $90,000 a year. I wasn’t surprised when I read these stats. After all, this is my gospel and I’ve been trying to spread the word, starting with my sons, children of friends, and strangers I meet on the train. As our world increasingly relies on technology, more and more companies are seeking skilled tech professionals to design, build and support the systems that make it possible.
Unfortunately, what is not mentioned in the Forbes article is that while 57 percent of the professional workforce is made up of women, only 25 percent of technology professionals are women. The ratios widen the more senior the role, according to a ComputerWorld article that explored the bench strength of women in tech careers.
People often ask my opinion on why more women are not attracted to technology careers. Is it because they’re considered too nerdy? Are women afraid they will be confined to a cubicle working alone? Are the male “bro-grammers” not welcoming? There are multiple factors in play and no easy answers. However, the first exposure to software development is important in determining whether a person continues on a technology career path. It can be such an intimidating experience that many first-timers don’t get past the first time. Learning any new language requires patience and perseverance. And then one day it clicks, and you truly understand what is required to write software.
Natasha Murashev, a software developer at Manilla, published a book in 2012 called “How to… Learn to Code, Get Your Dream Job, Change Your Life.” Natasha is a young woman with an interesting background. She studied psychology, worked at the FBI, tried a stint in marketing, and only in the last two years pursued a tech career. She loves being a software developer. It’s her career dream come true. How did this happen? The book tells her story and highlights the challenges she encountered when she first tried to learn how to write software. What’s special about Natasha is that she did not give up. It was not a direct path, but after trying different learning techniques, asking for help, and leveraging technology community resources, Natasha is now happily employed as a software developer.
Natasha’s book is a call for others to do the same. She shares advice and ideas to help get past that first humbling and scary experience with software development. The book addresses many topics, including setting a goal, selecting a programming language, defining your first project, and getting a job. The second half of the book provides a long list of resources, including online learning, tutorials, newsletters and tech communities. I encourage you to share this book with anyone you know who might be a fit for a tech career. It’s easy to read and chock-full of useful information.
Natasha’s journey, and the initiative she took to publish a book to encourage others, gives me hope that more women will give a technology career a try. It’s a rewarding career choice and the opportunities are endless.
I think it’s only fitting to close with a top 10 list from Natasha’s book:
10 Reasons You Need to Code
1. Never Be Unemployed
3. Great Perks
4. Always Be Learning
5. Start Your Own Business
6. Travel the World
7. Join a Passionate Community
8. Work Flexible Hours
9. Casual Friday Every Day
10. Love Your Job
Beth Devin is the chief technology officer of Manilla.com, the free, award-winning and secure service that helps consumers manage all of their bills and accounts in one place online and via mobile apps. For more career, money, and organizing tips, visit the Manilla Blog.