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Women At Grassroot Level Are Backing Off From Engineering

"The experiences of coding and participating in contests help strengthen resumes and in cracking interviews."

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Aanya Jindal has been hooked on coding ever since she joined the college in 2015. Inspired by her friends, she took up coding and has since participated in coding competitions like Indeed She Codes, a national level coding program hosted by Indeed. It spotlights talented Indian Coders. A completely free contest open to all women students and professionals in India, the contest aims to bring out the best in programming talent in India. She is currently completing her education, Bachelors in Technology in Computer Science. In an interaction with Aanya, she shares her journey with coding, the challenges she faced and a word of advice for aspiring women coders.

What has been your journey in programming so far?

I chose computer science as my specialization when I started college, as it was a subject I was interested in. It all started with my first group of friends at college, as they all enjoyed coding. We spent time-solving problems and discussing solutions. I then began coding by attempting problems on the coding platform ‘Codechef’, where I initially took days to resolve one problem. With regular practice, I have now managed to improve my skill and actively take part in coding contests as well.

What inspired you to get into programming?

What worked well for me was having a group of friends who were extremely enthusiastic about coding. We discuss questions on coding and compete with each other often. Had it not been for them, I may not have taken up coding. It was my dream to participate in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), considered the Olympics of coding. I successfully participated in ICPC in my third year at college. This experience helped me grow in the field and I learned a lot more about coding. This contest experience built my confidence and inspired me to pursue programming.  

What was your experience in She Codes?

My overall experience with contests has been great so far. Women-only contests like Indeed’s She Codes provide a platform for women to showcase their talent and encourage us to participate. I enjoyed being a part of She Codes as the contest was challenging, and it has helped me improve my programming skills and trained me to work well under pressure. The contest had an interesting set of questions on themes such as binary manipulation. The She Codes experience overall was well formulated and stimulating. Further, my performance at She Codes was influenced by my experience with ICPC.

What is your idea of women in technology?

Although the share of women in the coding industry is in line with the share of women who take up engineering, the concern is at the grass root level as not too many women take up engineering, let alone coding. As with my own experience, coding is more fun when done with friends. Only a few girls in my class take initiative to code or have the right company to go ahead in coding. Such challenges result in women not having the right exposure to the field. In my own experience, I was initially the only girl in my group of friends who code. 

What challenges did you face as a women coder?

My journey as a coder overall has been smooth, thanks to the support and encouragement of my parents and friends. Although my parents were sometimes reluctant to let me pursue coding, they never stopped or discouraged me. They even dropped by to hackathons I participated in when they ran on till late in the night. The only discouraging aspect is that the success of women is often not duly credited, and rather than being recognized purely for their talent, their achievements are simply attributed to their ‘being women’. That said, being a woman coder also has its own advantages in terms of cracking opportunities today, as many companies are looking forward to employing more women in their workforce. 

Your idea of success and message to women coders?

The key to success is trying out all available options and finding what you love. My advice to aspiring coders is to find where your passion lies and immerse yourself in learning all about it. Speak to other coders for constant feedback and advice and remain open to new opportunities. More importantly, know your strengths and capabilities and embrace them with pride. Nothing replaces practice; aspiring coders should spend as much time as they can on coding platforms available to improve their skills and then go on to participate in competitions. These experiences of coding and participating in contests help strengthen resumes and in cracking interviews.

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