You might have noticed I have been writing less. The reason for that is quite absurd. I have been writing less, because I have been writing more. That’s right!
Remember how serious I got about but 10000 birthday? I made a promise to myself then to finally start doing things I had always thought I would do at some time in the future. Well, the clock is ticking. Writing is one of those things – writing fiction, that is. So I have enrolled in a creative writing course (as cliché as it sounds, I need it, also for regularity). I am practising, and trying to somehow fit it into my normal life.
It is not my goal to give up on this blog, but for my big plan to succeed, I need some changes.
Firstly, I will no longer maintain a multi-lingual blog. I know that at least one person is using my texts to improve her English – please accept my sincere apologies. I decided to write in English to make this available to everyone interested, not necessarily from Poland, but I also wanted it to be noticed here, where I live, so I translated. However, the effort proved to be tremendous. I am often able to prepare a post in one day, but rarely do I manage to translate it in one seating. Moreover, I have simply burnt out as a translator. I think I have pulled some people down with me on my way out, but this is a story to tell another time. I think I am going to stick to English in the future, especially when the “fiction” part will obviously be done in my mother toungue.
Secondly, I am less and less comfortable with the “woman in IT” main theme. I have met a number of such women over the last few years, some of them real role models and inspirations. I am not as special as I originally thought! On the other hand, I think a lot of things I write here are interesting in general, and not only because of my gender. A comment from a few days ago made me even more convinced I need a change here… We have a foosball table at work. I still hold the second place in the company singles league, but this is about to change soon. I do not train, I am not learning new things, I got rid of the lunch break (practice time) – while some of my colleagues treat this tournament very seriously. After yet another defeat I explained to all the spectators that this historically sent me to the second (lower) league. One of them decided to console me with this: “Do not worry, you are still the only woman in the league”.
As a treat, before I start introducing any changes (and before I write the true-IT post I have had planned for so long) I want to share something I have just found on my hard drive. Last year I was invited to deliver an inspirational talk at my university to a group of high school girls considering a career in IT. Here are the slides, with comments.
Sure I could translate them, but I think they are more fun this way.
This is my first slide. The title is “What can a woman do in the world of IT”, and the footnote says “everything”. Pretty smug, huh? Of course I used a ready-made presentation template. My graphics skill is so bad I have recently been reprimanded by a peer-reviewer in an online Python course for my choice of colors in a counter implementation.
Here I told the story of computer science classes in the schools I went to. In primary school we “programmed” the AC Logo turtle. Surely we ridiculed it in any way possible and played Doom when the teacher was not looking. Then came secondary school and, to my surprise, AC Logo was a level we never even approached. Instead, we learned how to use text editors in a prehistoric Mac OS edition. A friend and I always did the tasks first. To keep us quiet, the teacher awarded us extra points for good Tetris scores. Want to challenge my Tetris?
Throughout primary school I was convinced I would take Polish studies at university. Then in secondary school I met a Polish teacher who hated my writing style, as well as all my favourite writers. One day the school made us go to a job advising agency. When I hesitantly whispered “IT, maybe?” I suddenly seemd like the most convinced person in my entire class. I decided I would get a real job, and read (or write!) books in my free time. 15 years later the blatant error of this assumption is still staring me in the face. The slide above shows that you can combine the two passions (this is a pile of IT books I translated, taken from an earlier post here). Yeah, it is a little far-fetched… But I did make some money working with words.
Well, here are some pros of working in IT, a bait for the girls. I mention that this job is a constant brain-teaser, pays well and can be done around the globe, almost in any place of your choosing. I also name the types of IT jobs, from programmer to technical writer. When I look at it now – well, all of that is actually true.
This says “Whatever happened to the women in IT?”. The photograph shows the ladies who programmed ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), one of the worlds first computers. You can read more on this subject here: ENIAC Programmers Project.
This slide is about the need to react when people repeat harmful stereotypes and undermine women’s abilities in science and technical jobs (or anywhere else, for that matter). My blog has served me well as a vent! But real problems need to be solved in real life, so confrontation is inevitable for things to change. Be prepared.