Lately, I've noticed a pattern among girls who proclaim to have a passion for coding. While I'm sure that some of them genuinely hold a love for programming, others may not. Despite presenting themselves as coders, their content raises doubts about their sincerity.
A common characteristic of these individuals is their tendency to post photos on Instagram, with a computer screen often visible in the background. On rare occasions, the screen may even display something resembling a real programming language, further perpetuating the illusion.
Most of the time emphasis in those photos is not on the code or what is on the screen. There is rarely coding in real-time - instead, the emphasis is on the feminine features of the female model. By model I mean the primary subject in the photo because to me - this is a model.
As a parent of a teenage girl and someone with strong moral principles, I know that sometimes I sound like a jealous grandma. However, I have a background as a photographer. A photographer who did a lot of self-portraits, amongst other paid photoshoots. Taking self-portraits means that I was the photographer and the model at the same time.
Back in 2013, I was taking a lot of self-portraits, and no they are not the same thing as selfies - I was using a professional camera, a tripod and a shutter release... But life went on, and around 2019 I shifted to web development and my involvement with photography decreased to the point that for the last few years, I didn't photograph anything at all...
So I understand the photographic aspect of things, and I have no problem with girls posing - anyway they like. I am sure they have their reasons, most probably promoting products and gaining followers that may or may not have a genuine interest in programming but that is their business...
What I do have a problem with is the ideas and associations that those images create.
That most or many girls look like that while coding or working.
That such appearance is comfortable or 'natural'.
Or that a girl that enjoys programming would be so happy to spend her time posing - instead of - coding.
Today as I was taking the photos for this post - after not photographing for so long, I went into it with the memory of how much I enjoyed it once.
But you know what actually happened ->
I became incredibly bored and my desire to return to working with Node.js grew stronger. This is because, for me, programming has become more engaging and enjoyable as I've developed my skills. I recognize that this varies for everyone, but as I've grown in my programming abilities, other activities that require less mental effort have lost their appeal.
Taking photos is time-consuming, and self-portraits of course take a bit longer but either way - it's time-consuming. And I much rather spend time doing more productive work.
Additionally, I can only contemplate photography during the weekends. During the weekdays, as a full-time front-end developer, I struggle to find the time to document my work and progress, even though just a few social media posts. Thus, fitting in a photoshoot or filming a video of myself posing as a programmer while actually programming is not feasible.
The reality is - every human being gets tired and looks tired after spending long hours in front of the screen. When you have responsibilities, deadlines and a big workload - you do not have the time to stop and put on some mascara or lipstick or do your hair - you just keep on going until the job is done. You are not picture-ready and most definitely not video ready at all times, and that is absolutely fine.
The connection between someone's appearance and job performance is misguided and unproductive. No one should feel pressure to conform to a certain look to excel in their job. Our skills and abilities should be the only factors that determine job success, not our appearance.
Being a female programmer comes with its own set of challenges, such as mansplaining and assumptions that women know less about technology. Presenting a false image of what a female programmer looks like only perpetuates these stereotypes and does not help the situation. It is important to acknowledge the challenges and work towards breaking these barriers to create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry.