How this Woman is Breaking Stereotypes Through Her Blog Called Coding Blonde

Masha Zvereva - Founder of Coding Blonde

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I grew up in a conservative society in Russia where stereotypical gender roles prevailed. I rebelled because I didn’t want to conform to those roles. I didn’t want to be forced to dress a certain way or sit quietly and be pretty. Even though I never thought technology was a possible career path for women, I started programming in Visual Basic at the age of 11 in an IT class taught at school. I remember I would stay after class and ask the teacher to show me what else I could do with coding, and before I knew it, I was building programs for my siblings and peers. I was also fortunate to be exposed to different cultures from an early age because both my parents loved to travel. My father’s dream was to send me to boarding school when I turned 14. When he told me for the first time, I burst out crying because I was afraid of being homesick. As I got older, I realized how many more opportunities would open up to me if I went to boarding school, and I became more comfortable with going. At boarding school, I was able to see a world where women were much freer to make their own choices and I loved it.

I ended up finishing my bachelor’s degree in Scotland in economics and did a master’s in market research and consumer behavior. To be honest, I didn’t really know what my next step was going to be. After my master’s degree, I decided to learn how to code as a way to market my resume and make myself employable. When I started learning how to code, I realized how intimidating this industry can be to women. I decided to document my journey and created my blog @codingblonde to challenge stereotypes.

The hardest thing about learning how to code has been how scary the words are. They are even  scarier for me because I am not a native English speaker. In addition to that, I have dyslexia, so abstract concepts are hard for me to understand. I needed to be able to visualize the concepts I was learning, so I decided to create the Blonde Dictionary Series. I would use visual aids to explain basic computing concepts. For example, when I was working at Google, I made my coworker trap herself in a rotating door so I could explain the concept of an infinite loop. I want to help increase the number of women who choose to pursue technology. I am trying to break stereotypes to shift that diversity scale towards equality. We need more women at the table as we start building technology for the future. Even if I can only get one woman to join the industry, I will feel like I’ve accomplished something.