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Coding Wo[men]'s World: How to Start Coding

Beware! This is not a motivational article. If you are not interested in how to start coding, don't read this. However, if you want to know how and where to start learning programming, please continue reading.

I'm too old for this stuff. I will never understand it. I don't know advanced math. I've never done anything with analysis, coding, or logic tasks. I'm a woman, and this is a man's world

When I started to think about learning to code, I decided to write about women's stories because of the stereotypes they face. Many women want to try coding but are afraid of it. They want to change their career path but have no idea how to start learning to code. Maybe they feel they aren't capable of programming because they don't have the right education or skills. They might encounter people who say, "It's not for you."

Where to Start When Learning to Code

Eve closed the laptop. She had just finished another lesson with her students. Teaching Norwegian via Skype gave her a sense of freedom. She could maintain her working hours but have more time for herself. It was time to think about what to do, how to grow and improve herself. We met to talk about her adventure with learning to code.

"You know, I always wanted to try coding, but it seemed to be something completely out of reach. I didn't know how to start programming. There were more questions than answers." I asked, "So, why did you eventually decide to try?" "I graduated with a sociology degree and was always into languages. But nowadays, it's really important to have a plan B."

I asked, "How did you motivate yourself to start?" She replied, "Actually, motivation was my biggest problem. I have a good job, good salary—why change things, right? But then I asked myself: What if this doesn't last forever? What if I lose my clients or someone invents a better way of learning languages, with machines replacing real teachers?"

I couldn't agree with her more. I've had similar thoughts lately. A machine can book an appointment for you, write a novel, beat Garry Kasparov... I can feel the pressure.

A few days earlier, I met with another friend. While having coffee, she told me about one of her colleagues, an example of a woman who walked into the IT world without any educational background in this field. "She talked about her job in the IT department. I've heard this story a few times before, but this was the first time it was told by a woman. It was the classic story. My colleague started as a tester in IT. She developed coding skills and stayed in IT for good."

I instantly asked her if she ever thought of starting to learn programming herself. Agnes, with a linguistic education background, was currently working as a project manager. "You know, I actually have some experience already. I tried different online courses. I completed postgraduate studies in computer graphics with HTML and CSS elements." I asked, almost with disappointment, "And you never wanted to continue?" She replied, "It's not the end of this story. After my colleague told her story, I started to wonder how different graphic design is from coding. It encouraged me to finally stop wondering and just go for it. I didn't know what the best way to start coding is. So, I decided to go for my first coding open workshop." She must have noticed my shocked look, so she continued...

She told me about her first steps with Java and her fear that she wouldn't become a professional. We started to wonder together why women, especially women with educational backgrounds in the humanities, are so afraid of coding. Years ago, maybe it was an unusual field for women, and we didn't have as many ways to learn programming. Nowadays, we can take online courses.

I've noticed similarities in my friends' stories. Eve also already had some experience with coding. "I started an online course for beginners with a lot of anxiety. My initial reaction was terror. Such a huge amount of completely new information in one place and at one time. But after a few steps into the coding world, it didn't seem so horrible." It reminded me of when I was learning SQL Basics in an online course. Although I wasn't terrified, more just curious about the topic (I describe it in one of my previous articles here). We had similar feelings about where to start learning programming and why online courses are one of the best solutions. "The exercises explained everything, and the definitions seemed easier to digest. With online courses, I appreciate the immediate feedback. After typing the sentence, I can check if it's correct, look for a hint, or see where I made a mistake. I think this is the best way to start coding."

Best Way to Start Coding

I was extremely satisfied.  It was much easier than I thought.  Now I know I can do that!

If you are willing to try, you will realize that you can successfully learn to code. With every step, the women I mentioned were more and more convinced that they are capable of changing their career path. They were fighting stereotypes about people educated in the humanities entering the IT field, and they appeared to be winning.

For Eve, the biggest challenge was motivation. She found it when considering the salary and number of job offers in IT. For now, she likes her current job and has decided not to change it at the moment. However, the possibility of switching into IT left her with more self-confidence and less complacency.

Agnes needed to believe that with some effort, she can become a professional. She decided to continue with online courses so that she can figure out for herself how the coding world works. Suddenly, the big question, how to start coding, no longer seemed so difficult.

What's more, they are not afraid of being replaced by machines and AI. There will always be a need for technicians to handle machines.

Overcoming Obstacles

  1. Try it. You will never know if it's for you if you never try it. Coding requires not only analytical skills but also passion. You might love writing code. See if it suits you.
  2. Develop your skills and practice. Don't stop after the online course for beginners. If you want to code for real, plan your learning path and stick to it. You will need to practice your skills regularly. It's the same with every language—if you don't use it, you will forget it. Find your dream position and check the requirements. Develop your skills to move toward that goal. Try to find a company where you can start, even as an intern. Maybe you could work part-time from home, not quitting your current job right away.
  3. Believe in yourself. Nothing else matters. It doesn't matter if you are a woman or a linguist. Learning to code depends on your determination.

Did you change your career path by learning programming? Have you heard similar stories from people in the IT industry? Share with us in the comments!

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