Am I a woman in tech now?

Today is a good day because it is the day that I finally achieved a life goal and had a book published! Together with Martin O’Hanlon, I wrote a series of fun projects based on guizero for beginners. I’m also particularly excited that book also has loads of awesome colourful illustrations by Sam Alder.

Holding a paper copy of a book I have written has been my goal for a long time. I actually did write a book in 2015 but despite it taking an inordinate amount of effort to write, it was only ever published electronically and I am not sure that many people have ever read it. However, thanks to Raspberry Pi Press and encouragement from Carrie Anne to add it as a ‘personal goal’ at work, it is done!

The title of this blog post might seem to have little relevance to a book, but for me it has everything to do with it. I have a very uneasy relationship with ‘women in tech’. When I was a teacher, I thought no one would recognise me as a ‘woman in tech’ because I was “just a teacher*”. So I stopped being a teacher, and then I thought that no one would take me seriously as I hadn’t written any software. So I wrote a Python package called guizero which gets about 100 downloads a day, and then I thought maybe people would take me seriously if I had a book published. And now…well, you get the point.

I know that the aim of most initiatives to highlight ‘women in tech’ is to be inspirational and to encourage other women to join the field. I applaud all attempts to improve diversity in tech (hell, I’ve led some of them myself!) However, I’ve realised that for me, ‘women in tech’ initiatives have meant I have just spent the past eight years wondering why I don’t count yet as a ‘woman in tech’ and what I need to do to be recognised. Every time a list of women in tech came out, I went through a cycle of feeling upset that I hadn’t been nominated, followed by the “who the hell do you think you are and why would anyone think to nominate YOU” self-talk, to “OK I’m going to psych myself up and do something else so that I might be considered next time”. It’s exhausting.

Me, being an idiot as usual

I guess this bit is where I’m supposed to loftily proclaim that I have learned much from this whole process and I’m now an all round better person. However, like most people, I’m a flawed human being. I’ll still worry about whether I ‘count’ as a woman in tech. I’ll still probably be sad about some random list I shouldn’t care about. But at least now I can say I’ve written a real book, with pictures and everything, and there’s a new tick on my bucket list 🙂

* Being ‘just a teacher’ is a good thing, but no one talks nicely to themself in their inner monologue, including me.

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