Being a woman in tech is hard.

I am so fucking sick of being a woman in tech, and I’ve only been properly in industry for 8 weeks, but I’ve been putting up with this crap all throughout my degree. I just don’t know if I can imagine myself doing this for the rest of my career.

Over the course of the 4 and a bit years that I’ve been a woman in tech, I’ve put up with some horrible things. I’ve put up with being accused by friends of flirting with tutors for better grades, I’ve been accused of friendzoning people, I’ve been told that I should come around to a male friend’s house so he can play with my breasts while he was watching TV. I’ve learned to put up with the kitchen and sandwich and rape jokes, because my friends weren’t going to stop making them, and really, they were better than not having any friends at all.

During the first few weeks of my first internship in industry, I had a significantly older man trap me in a communal area and refused to let me leave until I agreed to go and have absinthe shots with him. I have had a significantly older man follow me around at a work event, invade my personal space, and put his hand on my thigh. After asking him to stop doing this, he apologised, but continued to touch my arm or my hand despite me saying it made me feel uncomfortable. I have had men in industry send me dick pics after I rejected them, and then proceeded to call me stupid or delusional for not wanting them after this incident. I’ve had male coworkers refuse to look at me during conversations. I’ve had male coworkers refuse to keep me in the loop with things that were going on, and only speak to my other male coworker in the same, shared role about issues.

I’ve had male friends, during a discussion about the importance of women in tech, remark that a typical career for a women is stripping. I’ve had male friends claim that if another female friend and another male friend of ours went for the same job, that she’d get it over him despite him being more qualified than her (which wasn’t even true). I’ve had male lecturers talk down to me, refuse me marks, and generally be rude to me for no reason. I’ve walked into communal computer science spaces and seen objectified drawings of either myself/women in general on a whiteboard. I’ve had many, many remarks of “you can code??” or “but you’re a girl!”. I’ve had many people question whether I actually am a coder, or be in disbelief of my abilities. I’ve had people claim that I’ve only achieved what I have because I’m a woman.

Before even getting to university, during high school, I had a male teacher refuse me admission into the highest level maths, because he felt that I wouldn’t handle it – despite me having done the pre-requisite a year early (when usually, it’s done concurrently). He also refused me entry into Information Technology (programming) as a subject, despite me having gone to the National Computer Science School, but instead allowed me into Information Processing and Publishing (Excel/Publisher). I had been the editor of our school’s magazine/yearbook for the last 3 years.

I spent a good amount of time in computer science without friends. I had to work very, very hard to make friends, and I had to push aside my own beliefs to be able to do this at the start. I had to work very hard for people to respect me – people seemed to respect me as soon as I received an internship at Google, but this same respect didn’t immediately transfer over to people who had also achieved the same. In group situations, many people outright ignore my contributions, or attribute the contribution to a male on the team, or when planning things, refuse to assign anything to me, because I’m not seen as a technical person (despite usually having contributed over half of the technical work).

But believe me, this isn’t limited to just guys. I’ve had female lecturers belittle our gender because I failed to meet her expectations. I have had female friends tell me that I’m too masculine and that I’m a better rape deterrent than one of our male friends.

It makes me not want to be an advocate for women in tech – because I don’t want other women to have to go through what I have, to have to put up with what I have. And I know not all women have had the same experiences as me. But certainly, others have.

For the most part, people are okay. My team is fantastic, they all believe in me, they don’t talk down to me, they make me feel like I am welcome and that my opinions/thoughts are valid and wanted. I have made some absolutely fantastic friends in tech, and I love them dearly. But I do have to worry that my playful nature will be misinterpreted as flirting, that my feminine dressing will be misinterpreted as being slutty, that my opinions and thoughts aren’t being taken seriously simply because of my gender. And I’m fed up with it. Shit needs to fucking change.

25 Before 25 – #25, #21, #15, #6b

In October, I purchased a new car – a shiny, silver, Astra diesel. So much more fuel efficient than my trusty old blue barina, and having five doors is just so much more practical. Needless to say, I love it very much. And with the advent of a car much more practical for long trips, it was decided that we would break it in by taking her to Melbourne, driving along the Great Ocean Road along the way!

Will and I set off from Adelaide bright and early on Tuesday morning, stopped to grab a coffee for our long journey ahead, turned on the cruise control and tractored away. After nearly hitting a few emus as they dashed across the road, we stopped for a pre-packaged lunch in Kingston – Will made some very tasty sandwiches, and we sipped on some fruit cordials gifted to us by my mother, which were incredibly tasty. Naturally posed for a photo with Larry the Lobster, before hitting the road again. We made it into Warrnambool at around 5pm, checked into our accommodation at the caravan park, and got some pizza from Pinkys Pizza – definitely recommend!

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One of the emus we nearly hit

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Me with Larry the Lobster in Kingston

After a delicious breakfast of eggs benedict on Wednesday morning (aren’t I spoilt!), we set off for our drive along the Great Ocean Road, which starts just outside of Warrnambool. We stopped at a few places along the way, my favourite of which being Port Campbell National Park. There were so many different tracks to walk down, all of which provided some amazing views. We spent quite a while here just wandering around.

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Will and I at Port Campbell National Park

Alas, we needed to keep driving. We didn’t stop again until we got to the Twelve Apostles. Well, that’s not entirely true – we actually missed the carpark for it, and drove until the next one, figuring we could walk back. And while we were correct, we didn’t realise just how long this walk would be. After about 20 minutes walking, seemingly further and further away from our destination, we decided to head back to the car and then drive back to the proper Twelve Apostles carpark. There were quite a few people there, as it was a gorgeous day. It was still great to see and walk around all of the tracks there, too.

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Will and I at the Twelve Apostles

It was getting late in the day, so we continued our journey to Melbourne. Just outside of Melbourne, Will pointed out that I was sunburnt – of course! We were staying in a self contained apartment in South Yarra, which as we discovered, is potentially the most hipster place in the world. It was so hipster they literally had a shop called ‘Hipster’. This was okay with us though, as we figured it meant we were probably going to be able to find good coffee nearby!

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A hipster shop called Hipster

Thursday morning we slept in for a bit, before driving across the bridge to Scienceworks, which we were both looking forward to checking out due to our nerdy natures. Scienceworks itself was pretty cool, lots of hands-on exhibits, including a giant Lego one! While we were there, we also decided to check out the planetarium. They did a pretty good show, and we were very lucky, as just that morning NASA had landed a probe on the comet Philae, so we got to see some stuff related to that from people who know all about it! Definitely worth doing if you’re in Melbourne. We headed home for a brief nap and to cool from in the hot weather, before heading out to do some rock climbing with a friend, Joh. Joh took us to a place called Clip n Climb, which had a lot of really cool rock climbing walls, as well as a leap of faith and a giant slide. Naturally, Will and I decided to do both the leap of faith and the giant slide! After we’d all exhausted ourselves, we decided to grab something to eat, before going for a wander to try and catch the Crown Casino’s fire display at 9pm.

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On Friday, we had a bit of a lazy morning before catching up with my friend Retno, who I know through Robogals. Retno took us to a lovely little cafe where I had some delicious pancakes and Retno had a burger. We stayed and chatted there for a while, before deciding to work off those calories by walking all the way to the Eureka Tower. The Eureka Tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, and gave us absolutely incredible views of Melbourne. After, we headed home to get changed to go out for dinner, and then walked along the banks of the Yarra, before stopping to get a charcoal portrait of us drawn by a lady whose work was just incredible.

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Saturday came around a lot faster than we expected, and it was time to start heading home. We took a bit of a detour and saw part of the Grampians along the way. Before we knew it, we were crossing the South Australian border and not much later, we were home!

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A little waterfall in Zumsteins in the Grampians

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Home sweet home!

MEGA program notes

Nick and I have been at MEGA for four weeks now, going through the program with our idea, The Coworking Sociatea. Nick has done a great job of updating our front facing website, which can currently be found here. Through our time in the MEGA program we’ve been privy to some great mentors and great learning discussions. We’ve been given some great ideas for our product, and some great inspiration from the mentors and presenters, such as:

“You’ve got 24 hours a day. You take away eight for sleep and you have 16 left. How are you using them?” – Ben Marsh

“Change your attitude, change your life?” – Ben Marsh

“Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.” – Ben Marsh

“Be phenomenal or be forgotten.” – Ben Marsh

“People who are talented at art are just talented. This is a lie.”  – Shane Bevin

“Turn up to events as often as you can.” – Shane Bevin

“Most people I know, when they do brainstorming – it’s more of a light shower.” – Shane Bevin

“Think outside the square, but know that the square is there.” – Shane Bevin

“Think in opposites. What is the problem? What isn’t the problem?” – Shane Bevin

“No one really cares about that other than you. They don’t care about how cool the programming is or the different things it can do. They only really care about the value to them is.” – Gavin Artz

“Ideas are cheap and your ideas will probably change. The important thing is taking your idea to market.” – Gavin Artz

“Money doesn’t just flow into your bank account when you’re running your own business.” – Tobi Pearce

“You can have the best product in the world but if it’s not put in front of the right people…” – Tobi Pearce

“The goal for any business should be to grow and get better.” – Tobi Pearce

Graduation

Last Tuesday I got to graduate from my Bachelors degree! It was a pretty exciting experience and I was lucky enough to have people important to me attend either the ceremony or my celebratory dinner. It was just such a great experience wearing the Hogwarts-esque robes and walking across the stage to get my parchment.

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Honours Project Proposal

On Wednesday this week I had to present my honours proposal to the rest of the commencing Computer Science Honours/Masters student cohort, as well as some of the academics within the school. My honours project is titled Automatic Group Formation – Data Analysis to Guide the Creation of Successful Student Groups, and I’m studying under Associate Professor Katrina Falkner, as part of the Computer Science Education Research (CSER) group at the University of Adelaide.

As part of this, I’m going to be looking into student metadata and finding ways of generating effective student groups using this data. At the moment, my approach will be to split metadata points into “required” and “preferred” criteria. For example, it may be a requirement for the students to be available at the same time, and to speak the same language. It may then be preferable to select students who have similar GPAs or forum contributions. My intended approach for this is to use hierarchical clustering to allow for this to happen.

I presented my proposal, and got some good questions and feedback from some of the crowd. I think I did a good job of conveying what my plans were, and the research I’ve done so far into my project. Of course, there are always things that I could do better – I could have rehearsed my presentation a bit more so that I felt a little bit more prepared, and I could have made better cue cards instead of reading from a big sheet of paper. Things to learn for next time, I guess! :)

Here‘s a cute little blog post welcoming me to the CSER group. I’m pretty excited to get working on this!

Startup Weekend Adelaide 2014

Also in July this year, I participated in Startup Weekend Adelaide which, like Unleashed, was a great event where I met a lot of awesome people, but unlike Unleashed, is less focussed on actually building something that weekend and is more focussed on showing that you have a viable business idea. I didn’t have an idea, but I was impressed by the calibre of ideas pitched! I joined a team called Lend A Skilled Hand, which aims to connect skilled volunteers with projects and opportunities that better fit their skills. As someone who volunteers a lot, this idea was important to me, and the team members were what sold me on joining them (protip: if you’re trying to convince someone to join your team, just “remind” them that you went to primary school together!) The Lend A Skilled Hand (LASH) team is a great team and I love them all dearly.

Over the course of the weekend we designed and built our website, filmed some great videos, and generally had a lot of fun together. We came up with a lot of ideas on how we could build our idea and what avenues we could tap into. Before we knew it, it was Sunday night and time to pitch the polished idea to the judges! Sam (the main idea man) did an absolutely fantastic job of the presentation! The hard work of the entire team throughout the weekend was immediately seen when we were awarded a scholarship to attend Flinders University’s New Venture Institute’s Venture Dorm program. The team were, of course, absolutely thrilled by that, and we all decided to keep going with the idea!

I’ve been blogging a bit about our experiences at Venture Dorm, which you can find here, but I might write a bit more about what I’m personally getting out of it.

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The LASH team – Matt, Jess, me, Sam and Nick

Unleashed Adelaide 2014

In July this year, I participated in Unleashed (or as it’s known in other states, Govhack) with my friend Nick. Unleashed is an open data competition where competitors are encouraged to mash up different data sets to create something valuable and useful. Nick came up with our great idea called The Coworking Society. The Coworking Society aims to connect independent workers through Adelaide City Council’s free wifi network by providing them with a place to meet and network.

Unleashed Adelaide took place over a weekend and was very much a hackathon of sorts. We had a lot of fun, and met a lot of awesome people who are also passionate about open data and making awesome things.

Last weekend the awards ceremony was held, and Team WarTapir was successful in being highly commended nationally, as well as winning two awards – the Majoran Co-working Mega Prize and the Best Entrepreneurial Concept by a Youth Team. The Majoran Mega Prize means that we get to be a part of the Mega program run by Majoran Distillery where we get to further develop our idea and business model! This started on Thursday last week and is very exciting, so expect further updates on this!

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Team WarTapir cleaned up!

Intro.

Hey! So I’m Sami, and this is my blog.

I enjoy baking, eating, roller skating, playing netball, playing board games and travelling.

Here I’m going to detail my adventures. I’ve recently just completed a Bachelor of Computer Science (Advanced) and have just started my Honours degree. In the last two months or so, I’ve been introduced to the startup culture and I’ve fallen in love with it. I’m also super passionate about getting more people interested in the tech industry, and I’m also passionate about education. A lot of the posts I make here will likely revolve around all of these things.

:)