“I’ve been a musician for fifteen years, and for the most part I was crap.” At least I think that’s what Kyle said during the Audio Visual Club lecture on Music Production. He kept at it, which was the point. Even when Producers rubbished his work, he took the criticism in his stride and tried again, and again … and again.

She had an epiphany that fateful afternoon. Everything suddenly made sense. She had been trying so hard to catch up, to submit, to fit in, that she overlooked the fact that code too was a skill, and that skills took understanding and a lot of practice. She would have to work at it, harder than most, but work she would have to.

It had been a difficult month or so. She had missed over five project submissions and had wallowed in her own disappointment. Struggling to wake, struggling to eat, and struggling to work. Failure filled her mind. “Uhhhmmm, how did you get into We Think Code?” That’s what Tiyani asked when she enquired over advice on work ethic – how to get into coding mode, where to begin.

“I get the impression you think I’m wasting my time. I get that a lot from guys at school. But it’s quite alright.” That was the end of the conversation, and with a lump in her chest, she vowed to finish. She vowed to survive. Her heart broke at the thought of all the women who have had to “sleep their way to the top.” That’s how coding had made her feel at some point.

She’ll make it. That’s what she keeps telling herself, and she believes it. That’s important – to have something to hold on to even when everything else is falling apart. Faith – That was her name, and it was faith that had gotten her this far. Faith that indeed, no matter how long the darkness lasts, the sun will again shine and bring with it a new day.

Why do we code? “Why do YOU code, Tumi?” Girls grow up in pink dresses and dolls for toys, confined to the security of household chores while boys roam free, breaking, building, climbing, tinkering. You know, boys in China start building computers as early as three years old, and coding is the latest preschool craze that side of the world? What are girls doing at that age, making doll dresses?

Arlene is adamant that more girls should code. That more girls should go into this testosterone infested career.  It isn’t welcoming; she’ll tell you that – Sexist to the core. She’s only met one other female coder outside the school, and she too was longing for a friend that was both a coder and female. Arlene is right, more girls should code, not because there’s a shortage of female coders, but because the problems of this world are mainly patriarchal. If we are going to be solving problems with code, who best to champion this but those most affected?

Her exam marks have improved. It isn’t so hard anymore. It isn’t so high a mountain to climb if she works at it, diligently.

Tumelo Mutaung.

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