On ‘Girls in ICT Day’, A letter to Young Women in ICT
On ‘Girls in ICT Day‘ Kirthi Jayakumar writes a letter to young women in Tech. Girls in ICT Day is a global initiative to encourage young women to consider studies and careers in information and communication technologies (ICT).It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April.
I write this letter in the hope that wherever you are, you find courage, solidarity and strength to firm your resolve to take on your dreams – no matter what they are, no matter how big they may seem, no matter how tough they may seem at the time. You must, especially because if you dreamed it, it means you have the strength to chase after it.
There’s only one person in the world that can determine what you can and cannot do: and that is you.
There’s only one person in the world that can determine what you can and cannot do: and that is you. The world is your oyster, and in this day and age, with the internet right in the palm of your hands, the oyster is filled with more pearls than it ever was. Many years ago, there were many people who told me what I could, and couldn’t do. They still do, but the difference is that I stopped listening to them. And so, today, I became the lawyer who became a social entrepreneur who also became an artist and taught herself to code.
There’s so much power in these two words, isn’t it?
Today marks the day of Girls in ICT – it hits me hard that we have to have a day to remind us that girls belong here, too – because in reality, girls belong wherever they want to be. And so, today, I want to share with you some things I learned as I taught myself to code. I’m no expert to give you advice in technical terms, but I’m also Indian – which gives me my superpower (offering unsolicited advice).
#1. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Code can be harrowing when you start off – and doubly frustrating if you don’t already speak machine. But the infuriation can be a great propeller and drive you forward in your journey.
#2. It’s perfectly alright (important, even) to struggle.
Struggling lets you learn things better, and lets you define the path toward arriving at the answer. When you struggle, you also build personal capacity to observe and identify what you can intuitively call out as a potential mistake, later on, before it even happens.
#3. There is no formula for success.
Success in itself depends on what you identify it is – if it’s coding a website, great… if it’s coding an app, great. It doesn’t do you good to judge yourself and your capability based on the standards that best define another’s capacity.
#4. Learn, learn, learn.
Studying is intensely different. Learning is walking the extra mile. Whether it’s through a MOOC or spending time with a seasoned coder who is willing to give you their time and space, invest in learning experiences. As far as possible, learn by doing.
#5. Mute the noise.
We’re surrounded by enough and more in the form of negative influences, especially those that are busy policing our choices. STEM, coding and artificial intelligence are not domains exclusive to men – and you are as entitled to being a part of this world as everyone else. Mute the noise that tells you otherwise.
Kirthi Jayakumar is the founder of The Red Dot Foundation. The views expressed in the column are author’s own.