Women in the Professional Geek World

I haven’t done too many blog posts on geek topics as of late, namely because I’ve been trying to keep my fitness and software development worlds separate, but I thought that this was too important not to comment on.

There have been a few blog posts I’ve been reading recently on the subject of women developers and IT staff, one at Coding  Horror and another over at Girl Developer, an awesome blog I was happy to be introduced to as a result of Coding Horror.

I have an advantage a lot of women didn’t in my generation: I grew up with computers. For Millennials this is a non-issue, but when I was growing up, the idea of the PC–personal computer–was brand spanking new. I never thought of them any differently than any other game or toy, and it’s how I got started in programming to begin with. One afternoon being bored and coming across a BASIC manual was enough for me to get going. I was no older than six. With the advent of the Internet however, the concept of the computer became “cool”, and smartphones have increased that perspective. And of course, social media took care of the rest.

Prior to the arrival of such things, anyone who had an interest in computers was associated with this type of image:


It wasn’t until I was a teenager that other guys were okay with my being a geek girl. Prior to then, I was a threat, and the fact that I could code circles around them did NOT help. But when I got older, suddenly guys wanted to hang with me because I could “speak geek”. In fact, I’d call it a second language at this point if not a first. Then of course, there’s my love of science fiction and fantasy. While people were watching “Friends”, I was watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

And let’s face it, science fiction has better role models for us than pop culture:


However…what drives me crazy is that decades later…women are still minorities in this industry. People who interview me for jobs still wax poetic about how “neat” it is that I am both female and a software engineer. I still read on programming forums how women like me supposedly do not exist and if we do, we have less skills than male programmers. There are some men out there, thankfully, who step in on their blogs and inform other men that we do indeed exist. But the fact remains that they still HAVE to, which is utterly ridiculous. In short, it’s 2014, I’m still a purple unicorn, and women like me are met with a great deal of skepticism.

Nowadays women have to deal with the “fake geek girl” accusation because we have the audacity to like a “male” activity. I’m not even sure how activities can be either male or female without it strictly involving biology, but I digress.


It’s no secret that the stereotype of software engineers being introverts tends to hold true, while I do NOT fit that mold. I love interacting with people and helping them out, and it’s probably why a lot of software companies enjoy hiring me: they know I can communicate in addition to being able to be a good coder. I wind up in a lot of client facing roles as a result, which I don’t mind and rather enjoy. As always, YMMV.

So the question remains: how do you get more women in there? Wait, I know! How about speaking out against the following:

  • Accusing women of being “fake geek girls” because obviously it’s impossible for women to really be geeks.
  • Telling women they can’t REALLY be a programmer/gamer/science fiction fan/etc because they’re too “pretty”.
  • Telling people women can’t possibly be programmers/gamers/science fiction fans/etc and even if they were, they’d be less knowledgeable than men.
  • Paying women less in those fields than a man would make for the same skillset and expertise.

And instead, support the following:

  • Foster a positive attitude towards women in engineering, science, and other “nerd spaces”.
  • Raise your daughters to become geeks! My dad did a pretty good job with that. 🙂
  • Encourage teachers and professors who treat women no differently than men in the classroom starting from their youth going forward.

And above all else, don’t overlook  us.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is bridge the two worlds that I have and love: fitness and software engineering. Beyond a few positions I’ve worked in within the healthcare industry, it hasn’t manifested. So I’ve taken it upon myself to start working on a product that would help the fitness industry and give me the chance to flex my programming muscles. I have a survey for fitness professionals to fill out, actually, which will help me (and YOU!) a great deal.

Plant strong women, unite!

Are you  a woman who is interested in bodybuilding, fitness, or weight lifting in general? Vegan, vegetarian, or veg-curious?

I’ve started up a closed group on Facebook for us to collaborate, cheer each other on, and share the plant-strong love!

Lift those veggies!

You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganWomenBodybuildingAndFitness/

Last walking total update!!

Okay, here goes:

Monday 5/7: 10.5 miles
Tuesday: Semi-rest day, four hours of cleaning instead
Wednesday: genuine rest day!
Thursday: Ran/walked 1.5 miles, ran 1.5 miles
Fri-Sat lots of house chores
Sun: 20 mile walk
Mon: rest day
Tues: 1.5 mile run, another 1.5 mile run

Tonight and tomorrow are more walking, and Friday is…Event Eve!! I’ll be checking into my hotel for the Avon Walk, and will be aiming to walk the full marathon on Sat and half on Sun.

As for the fundraising total…*drumroll*


Thanks to everyone for their support, I could’ve have done this without you!

If you’d like to contribute, go here to donate

More walking totals plus Avon Walk fundraising update!

Tuesday 5/1: 13.1 miles
Wednesday: 8.5 miles
Thursday: Ran a mile, walked a mile
Friday: 12 mile walk
Saturday: 12 mile walk
Sunday: 17 mile walk

VERY close to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and still in training! It’s May 19-20th here in Boston.

And the grand total for the fundraising efforts so far is…$1,622! I’ve pledged to raise a minimum of $1,800 towards the fight against breast cancer. The money goes not only towards research but to fund mammograms and help low income cancer patients.

It’s a wonderful cause, and well worth training for. Please consider donating and/or passing this blog post along: http://www.avonwalk.org/goto/TeaAddictedGeek

What can a woman (or anyone) expect from P90X?

P90X is a program designed to force people into phases where their body adapts and adjusts, and in the process gets stronger. There are three of these phases and in between each are recovery periods where the body can be sure it won’t be overtrained.

As a result, different people will get results faster than others. Often enough, people don’t really see major results until the last 30 days of the program. This can cause people to become frustrated and think that they’re not making any progress–and the people who seem to be most affected by this (in my experience) are women.

Here are my suggestions:

1) Take a series of before and after photos. One set before you start P90X, another after 30 days, another after 60, and another after the full 90 days are up. The pictures will tell the tale even if you haven’t seen anything yourself.

2) Take measurements. This includes bust, waist, hips, thighs, and upper arms.

3) Consider doing more than one round of P90X if you haven’t gotten the full results you want after the 90 days are up. It may be that calories need to be tweaked up or down, your body needed more adjusting than most–all sorts of things can contribute.

4) Results are often made in the kitchen. You can work out like crazy but if you’re not eating as you should, your results will be lacking.

5) Start SOMEWHERE. Don’t be afraid to modify some of the workouts and build your strength and endurance from there. I began doing pushups on my knees the entire duration of the workouts, I now begin and do either most or all of the pushups on my toes. I’d NEVER thought I’d be able to do that! And if I can…so can you, trust me!

6) Find out the truth of what you’re burning versus consuming. You want to eat enough to fuel your workouts, but if you’re looking to lose weight, you need enough of a deficit for the weight to come off. Finding this balance can be tricky, and it may take some zigzagging with the calories to get it right. Or better yet…buy something like Bodybugg. Here’s a discount coupon for you if you want to give it a try. I LOVE mine, serious eye opener on what I actually burn per day. It’s MUCH less than I thought due to how sedentary my job is and various other reasons.

7) Patience. As Tony Horton says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body.” Just keep. It. UP. I remember starting and stopping so many diets back in the day because I had so much to lose it seemed like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Once I was able to live on my own, monitor my food intake, and just KEPT IT UP…the weight came right off, and I KEPT IT UP for a year…and lost over 100 lbs as a result. So YES, I am not someone who is a perpetual Skinny Minnie feeding you crap, I have been there, done that…and I know how challenging it can be. Persistence and consistency is the key!

Women have more fat than muscle on their bodies than men and come by it naturally, and hence building muscle tends to be easier for men. If you eat a low fat, clean diet and are patient you’ll yield the fruits of your labors. 🙂