2019 has been an incredible year for Fey Ijaware. Just over 8 months ago, she founded CodeandStuff, a space where women and non-binary developers and code newbies can get together to discuss and learn all things code. With 40 events hosted since March and a growing community of people wanting to become developers and master their technical skills, we absolutely love what they do!
We asked Fey about her experience with working in the tech industry and why it’s important to her that projects like CodeandStuff exist.
To succeed, I believe that it is important to enjoy the work you’re doing.
In my experience, most people don’t love their work. I never really enjoyed any of the jobs that I did in the past, before working in tech. Like many others, I just tolerated it, but chose to be proud and took satisfaction in the way I was working. My love for coding started in 2015, when I was working at the Co-op Group. I’ve been hooked ever since, and just love adding to the World Wide Web!
Only a minority of people find work they love that also supports their lifestyle. I am proud to say I am in that minority. Coding makes me feel happier, engaged, and at the top of my game. Problem-solving is my passion, and coding has definitely opened up my world to new opportunities to create solutions to problems. Being a developer and working in tech has also taught me about dealing with failures, decision-making, research, creativity, design, critical thinking, being part of a community and most importantly confidence.
Sadly it is not all rainbows and kisses.
Most importantly, it has also opened my eyes to inequalities that exist within the industry, and especially the lack of diversity. It is not just up to education providers, employers or the government to be responsible for building a system which helps more girls and women to realise their potential in STEM, we must all take ownership because we all have a contribution to make. It’s not enough to just talk about it. It needs concrete action to make it happen.
Something I do in my free time is to co-organise two coding meetups in Manchester and mentor those looking to join the industry.
Just over a year ago, I built CodePossible, an online platform for those interested in learning how to code. To date, it contains has 24 learning platforms. It exists to give people interested in being a developer the information they need to transition into tech, by linking them with meet-ups, learning platforms, tools, and online communities. It’s currently a work in progress and am working towards making it bigger and better in 2020 so it can have a bigger impact.
Diversity and Inclusion
A side effect of a lack of diversity in tech is the bias and exclusion it can create. For example, having an all-male team isn’t automatically a bad thing, but without any influence from women or those who belong to gender minorities, how likely are they to reflect the other half of the population in their work?
“Technology needs women. Not because men are bad, but because diversity is better. Technology needs people of colour. Not because white people are bad, but because diversity is better. Technology needs people of all ages, gender, and identity because diversity is better” - Claire Worthington.
This is why, more than anything, diversity and inclusion in tech is something I'm passionate about. I believe the issue isn’t that there are too many white men, but rather that other groups are underrepresented. Technology has the potential to resolve a lot of the world’s problems, but we need the right mix of people, looking at the right problems, in the right way, and this is why I want to encourage more women and non-binary people into tech with CodeandStuff, and offer help and support to new developers.
CodeandStuff is the first of it's kind, first because it is the only meetup for women and non-binary code-newbies and developer with weekly events in Manchester. The goal was to create a safe inclusive space free of judgment to empower women and non-binary people to aspire to a career in tech through mentoring based weekly meetup events, talks, and workshops, and since it's inception in March 2019, it has grown to a community of 150 members currently. It also has an online community on Slack where everyone can get to know each other better and ask for help outside the weekly events, and give our members every opportunity to realise their coding potential.
I believe that if we want to achieve gender equality in tech, representation matters, and it’s up to each and everyone one of us. When I launched CodeandStuff on International Women's Day 2019, I wanted to start a movement that will empower more women and non-binary code newbies to get into tech. I believe with the right support and environment, anything is possible. In line with the message of International Women's Day 2019, I wanted to help forge a #BalanceforBetter. A more balanced tech world means better solutions, software and products for the world.
I am a firm believer in “Deeds not words” and it's one of the core values that drives me. For me, the issue of diversity in tech is not just about raising awareness about it, but to also lead the way with some positive action.
The CodeandStuff end of the party and final event for the year is now live and for the first time ever, our event is open to everyone, so come join and help us celebrate an amazing 9 months so far and see what CodeandStuff is all about, hear about our plans for 2020 and hear from some of our attendees.
If you want to attend a CodeandStuff meetup, find out more on their Eventbrite page.
If you’re a woman or belong to a gender minority, you can apply for our Study Now, Pay Later initiative and become a software developer in 12 weeks.