"Programming Is Not For Ladies" Say That Again!?!?

In the past I have run several coding programs for ladies in Uganda which I viewed as total failures since none of the ladies actually went to become full time programmers. It was really disheartening and I vowed not get involved again as it was time consuming and going nowhere. Mid last year , Richard Zulu (founder of outbox an incubation hub in Uganda) got in touch me and said he was running a coding program aimed at ladies at outbox.

Initially, I was skeptical however on our first meeting with the team Richard has assembled , their passion rubbed off on me.

Connect The Dots Backwards

Whenever the conversation of “how did you get into programming” comes up the usual answer are the first time I used a computer blah blah or the first time I played a video game blah blah. Well my entry into programming was different.

I watched my brothers play video games and had no interest.I visited the local internet cafe to do yahoo searches on celebrites because other girls were doing it. However nothing about the power of computing hit me. Somehow I accidentally took computer science in my first year of university and discovered that computer science allowed me to extend my brain and gave it immense power. I went to an all girls catholic school that was full of geeks , I used to do solve integration problems for fun. So accidentally meeting computer science resulted in a somewhat obvious chemistry. In the past, everytime I had chemistry with a subject things hit off in a natural way , I always had a support system (teachers , friends) with whom I could connect with on a deeper level. With computer science that wasn't the case.

Madea with a gun

I don’t play video games, I had never watched Star Trek , Star Wars. I always felt/feel like a square among triangles. So fitting has been strange and in some ways my learning of programming has been stunted by this (re: doing it all over again). However that didn't stop me because in primary school I was so bad at English however I got a first for my final primary grade, in high school there was a queue of subjects I was so bad at chemistry , advanced chemistry, physics, advanced physics etc but my final grades make me seem like a great student. Creating my own learning program and practicing on it everyday with other squares and triangles helped alot in those scenarios and resulted in my excelling.

Going to the past, Ada Lovelace wrote the first algorithm that could be run by a machine , Grace Hopper wrote the first compiler for computer programming languages. The first real programmers were women (ironic how maths was deemed a woman’s work). Tweet

Connecting the dots backwards , these ladies are probably me in the past. No proper understanding of computing and no support system thus spiralling nowhere. I was able to stumble through this however I wouldn't want anyone to go through it. Reflecting on this,it made vision for coding ladies a bit more clear.

Bigger Picture

A few months ago I was reading “ON COMPUTABLE NUMBERS, WITH AN APPLICATION TO THE ENTSCHEIDUNGSPROBLEM” by Alan Turing, there’s a section about finite states and endless options that can happen when a set of states are combined. Currently we know how the state of computing is when run by men, but what if we threw a load of women into the state, what would it look like?

What if its awesome beyond comprehension?

Going to the past, Ada Lovelace wrote the first algorithm that could be run by a machine , Grace Hopper wrote the first compiler for computer programming languages. The first real programmers were women (ironic how maths was deemed a woman’s work).

Imagine if more women were aided entry into computing, I beleive the state of computing would be amazing given history. I lost my vision of this and regained it through this new coding ladies program.

Avengers Team

I cannot stress the importance of team your surround yourself. Richard Zulu organized the team. This team felt like the Avengers. Whenever we get into action , we feel like we are kicking ass.

In the previous teams I had worked with this wasn't the case , it was usually me kicking ass and we know how that goes. I never I achieved anything as I was overwhelmed. As the saying goes, teams win titles not indiviuals. And with titles comes with lot of other get stuff like actually getting ladies to code!!!.

With this team I honestly feel like I’m part of the Avengers, and I have learnt from them.

Feedback Is Important

Criticism is important!! I get feedback from all directions and the most important feedback is the one from my students. I’m trying to pass knowledge to them and if i’m not doing it right then there’s no point. When I started the program , I was too theoretical and usually handed a bunch of notes to them. At the start I realised many girls were not reading notes and my classes made no sense to them.

A Kenyan Startup Journey

When I asked for feedback , they said the notes were too difficult and they struggled through them. The particular session was “lists and dictionaries in python” who’s difficult level to me is zero however at this point I had to connect the dots backwards and create a learning program that would aid them and not stunt them. The program has iterated three times and currently the program is focused on more hands on programming where ladies have to solve challenges

Learning How To Learn

I have been reading papers on autism and dyslexia as my little brother suffers from both. Through this learning has become a key area of importance .Learning is key to inclusivity. If done wrong , it can screw an individual or individuals and thus their future or collective futures. These futures shall be missed and the universal might miss yet another life changing idea .

Through this coding program for ladies, I have learnt that our brains are another system depending on the environment they in will adapt accordingly. The right environment can lead to the right result, wrong environment leads to the wrong result. I’m trying to create the right environment that will allow ladies or anyone learn programming in the simplest way possible.

Cover Image, Black Girl Coding | Black Girls Code