Guest post by Aishwarya Singh
Growing up, I loved to play in the dirt and in sand boxes, but was told that was super dirty. People still ask me; “Why are you so obsessed with The Flash? That’s so boyish. You’re never gonna get a boyfriend that way.” First of all, screw you for saying that DC is for boys. Second of all, Grant Gustin is super hot.
I proved all the haters wrong when they made assumptions about me based on my gender. Due to some malfunction with my schedule, I got put into a computer science class in 10th grade (Comp Sci for us cool kids). That screw up was the best screw up of my life.
And at first, it was totally awesome (not!). There were only two other girls out of my class of 25 (lucky me, right?) and I had no friends. The boys – oh god the boys – it was as if they had never seen girls before, like I was some sort of extraterrestrial species. It was like I was a skipping, prancing Little Red Riding Hood dropped into one of the fights in Arrow (tbh it was probably because they weren’t used to seeing girls in their STEM classes).
But you know what was even worse, it was like the teacher had this little part of him that expected me to be pretty bad. He didn’t do this knowingly or really outwardly, but it was the little things that got to me. It was that quick 1-second knowing smile he would give me every time I asked a question, his sympathy every time I got one of the questions wrong. It was absolutely terrible. I knew it was not his fault, that it had been geared into his brain. Society has told him that only young white boys or that stereotypical Asian dude with a funny accent that shows up on every tv show can code, but it still didn’t make it right.
Being the super stand up, sarcastic girl I am, I wanted to tell him “HELLO! GIRLS DON’T HAVE TO BE TERRIBLE AT COMP SCI”. Obviously I didn’t do that, but once I actually tried in his class and ended up being kinda good at it (surprises me too tbh), it had the same effect.
Now I’m in AP (aka College level) Computer Science, and yeah there are still only 2 other girls in my class, but I’m still doing it. Yeah, I am the only girl on the executive board of Geek League (I know, it’s a nerdy name), but I’m still there. And that comp sci teacher, those boys who thought I would be terrible, here I am.
Anyway, I want to tell you, girls (or anyone), it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to stand out. But it’s not okay when people treat you differently because you are different. Defy expectations and prove that random person who thought you would suck wrong. You are amazing and trust me, if a normal girl (who’s only true accomplishment in life is binge-watching Netflix for 23 hours straight) can do something, so can you.
By the way, there are really few girls who are coding. According to college board (that huge, ginormous company that created the death test AKA the SATs), only 21% of those who take AP computer science are girls. That is like nothing. And only 15% of all engineers, including computer engineers, are girls. We need more girls in math and science, especially engineering. I know calculus and physics are hard (trust me, I’ve been there… AP Calc is killing me rn), but we need more girls out there. If you are a girl in science, please don’t give up because it is hard or because you are lonely. Try to get the help and support you need (if ya need it cuz you are a girl boss). Most of all, I am proud of you. Surpassing all the expectations society has on you is not easy and you really are making a difference.
So girls, go out there and code (or engineer, or do math or science)! And most of all, try to get other girls to do that same.
*Note to all: I am not saying that boys shouldn’t do STEM, boys can and should do STEM as well. It is just that there are very few girls who do it and are really good. We need more so I am trying to get more girls into it and that is why I wrote this article.
Aishwarya Singh is a 16 year old feminist from New Jersey. She is an active coder who is the founder of her non-profit The Coding Girls who run coding events and classes in the central NJ area. She is also the only female executive board member of Geek League, a tech group at her local library. Also a Her Campus High School Ambassador and Clover Letter Intern, she loves to write articles relating to feminism and the effects of autism of families. She also loves to watch Netflix especially Friends and Vampire Diaries. You can get involved with The Coding Girls by emailing Aishwarya at firstname.lastname@example.org