Featured Storyteller

NIGERIA: I Am A Girl Who Codes

Kike
Posted November 8, 2017 from Nigeria
Photo © orighomisan/iStock

Kike didn'tlet perfectionism hold her back from realizing her dream of learning how to code.

“I’ve felt demotivated, but I am not going to quit.

On my path to becoming a woman in the tech industry, I did a lot of wandering. But it’s true what they say: Not all who wander are lost.

Weeks after graduating secondary school, I found myself at home with time on my hands. I was waiting to hear about my admission to university, and the wait was eating away at me. I decided to take up something I’d always wanted to try.

I was going to learn how to code.

When I told my uncle, Ibrahim, of my intentions, he was overjoyed. He started me out by trying to teach me the concept of C++. Two weeks and loads of uncompiled code later, I quit. When my uncle questioned me, I told him I wanted to focus on my entrance exams. He didn’t push.

The truth, however, was that I hated failing. After expending so much effort trying to debug my error ridden code, I decided programming just wasn’t for me. This mindset led me to quit my attempts to learn web development three times in the space of only two years.

Still yearning to learn coding but not willing to try again, I went searching online and stumbled on a TED talk given by Reshma Saujani, an American lawyer and politician. She’s also the founder of Girls Who Code, a US-based nonprofit that teaches girls coding skills. In her approximately eleven minute TED talk, Saujani called out the societal bias which raises girls to be perfect and boys to be brave.

She spoke about her loss in the 2010 Democratic primary for the US House of Representatives in New York’s 14th congressional district against incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn B Maloney. She got only 19% of the total votes after investing an incredible amount of money into her campaign. She was the first Indian-American woman to run for Congress. She described this as the first brave thing she had ever done. She was 33.

As she spoke, I realized there and then that I had keyed into the socialization that I had to be perfect at whatever I did, including coding (which is not possible, really). I was behaving exactly like the Girls Who Code students she talked about, who would rather say they didn’t know what to write than admit that the code they had earlier written was not working right. Perfection or bust.

Immediately after the video stopped playing, I googled Girls Who Code. As I read about the troubling statistics—in 1984, 37% of computer science majors were women, but by 2014 that number was only 18%—and the efforts the Girls who Code team was making to bridge this gap one girl at a time, I could feel myself becoming motivated again.

Girls Who Code isn’t available in my country, but I am going to be a girl who codes anyway. This past summer, aided and cheered on by my cousin Jones and one of my closest friends Buddy, I completed a web design course and got started on a project very close to my heart. In my country, higher institutions pay very little attention to students of agricultural science. Perhaps it is so the world over because materials are very hard to source both online and offline. I’ve decided to change this by creating an e-library spanning first to final year courses.

This incredible project is still ongoing and my team is growing each day. I am working with developers, content creators, and research assistants. All hands are on deck and more hands are needed. However, I like to look at the awesome progress being made and not at the fact that there is still so much left to do.

Now, I am learning JavaScript and JQuery so that I can make the e-library interactive and so that I can create games for the web. Of course, I have run into trouble spots. The code I have built has not worked right for days, and I’ve even had an infinite loop crash my PC. I’ve felt demotivated, but I am not going to quit.

I’m not going to quit because I now know that it is okay to not get things right the first time. I’m not going to quit because the tech world is amazing and full of new adventures every day. Learning to code isn’t hard, and statistics show that more and more, great jobs in every field will be givento people who can code. Most of all, the feeling that comes from creating something that can add value to millions of lives all over the world is one I want to live with every single day of my life.

Now, I waste no time in recommending and sharing resources to friends who indicate interest in learning to code. I want to build a team of young women who are fearless and graciously imperfect in their endeavors. I believe that now, more than any other, is the time to show the tech world what we as women have to offer.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller!Learn more.

How to Get Involved

You can help Kike get her project off the ground. She is looking for volunteer back-end developers who have experience with log-in and database development, volunteer content creators who can help prepare online courses, and a volunteer illustrator to help design diagrams. If you are interested in supporting Kike and her work, contact her via private message. You can also find her on Twitter.

Comments 29

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  • Olutosin
    Nov 08, 2017
    Nov 08, 2017

    Wow I love your spirit my sister. I don't quit too. I may reverse to restrategise but quilting is not in my dico.

    keep on pushing on and I wish you success in all your endeavors.

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Thanks a bunch :)

  • mae me
    Nov 09, 2017
    Nov 09, 2017

    Hi Kike,

    I support you with your aim to share your resources and skills to those who are interested in the same field you are with.  Women have something to offer in the TECH world, we just need a chance. 

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Indeed we have so much to offer.

    Looking forward to starting a girls who code group in my school soon :)

  • Hina Bhagat
    Nov 09, 2017
    Nov 09, 2017

    Beloved KIKE!!

    You are the amazing sister I have learned many things from your post!! Such an amazing words you have mentioned in your post these are just like heart stolen words.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. am really very glad to know about your story love! You have a big heart for needy one and I appreciate your work!! :) Thanks for being in front of us :)

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Thanks :)

  • sherifa
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    You are very strong.I also do front-end coding and digital design.I have gone through so much because people dont believe in women who venture in IT,but thats no stumbling block.It is a stepping stone to us.

    Good job.

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    It takes persistence to make the doubters pay attention

    Thanks :)

  • noor alhooda
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Hi Kike 

    All I can say is reading your story just enlightened me!

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Well I'm glad to hear that

    Thanks :)

  • SanPatagonia
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Kike... your voice is so strong! It resonated in me, also on the verge of quitting some long-yearned projects. And you know what? Deep inside I also realize that perfection is the wall to deconstruct.

    "Women who are fearless and graciously imperfect in their endeavors". Great line and I'm borrowing it to encourage my paths.

    Thank you so much!

    San

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Funny, I almost didn't submit this story because I thought it wasn't good enough. But now I'm glad I did.

    I hope you always remember that you don't have to be perfect, just be brave :)

  • Wendy Stebbins
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Hi Kike,

    My granddaughters name is Kiki so your post immediately got my attention.

    If you are demotivated, I believe it is because you are trying to do something in a way that is not exciting you. Time to sit back and re-evaluate and re-invent something in the way you are doing your goal. My experience has taught me that when I feel this way, it is because it is time to move on, do something bigger or in an innovative, entreprenaurial way...or that there are people in my life who are not at my level. I have outgrown them or whatever. Perhaps not. But just wanted to say.

    Ubuntu,

    Wendy Stebbins

    Ubuntu is a southern Africa word that means "I am who I am because of who we are".

  • Kike
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    I learnt about Ubuntu in my peace and conflict studies class last semester, and it's a concept that fascinated me.

    Thanks a lot for this :)

  • Wendy Stebbins
    Nov 11, 2017
    Nov 11, 2017

    Demotivated is a gift from the universe saying "something is off". Rethink it, reinvent it, something.

  • pranitashrestha
    Nov 12, 2017
    Nov 12, 2017

    It was such an inspiring story. I could connect with the story. Thank you for sharing such an amazing experience.

    Love,

    Pranita

  • Kike
    Nov 19, 2017
    Nov 19, 2017

    Thank you, too :)

  • Aramide Oikelome
    Nov 13, 2017
    Nov 13, 2017

    Hello Kiki,

    Your story is inspiring. I love your doggedness and determination to pull through!

    You are one of the women breaking the glass ceilings! Keep soaring because you are a winner!

    Blessings!

    Aramide Oikelome

  • Kike
    Nov 19, 2017
    Nov 19, 2017

    Thank you!

  • Kike
    Nov 19, 2017
    Nov 19, 2017

    Thank you!

  • Ronnie.kpas
    Nov 16, 2017
    Nov 16, 2017

    Woooow!!!  i really admire u, met u in person this month in Abuja, wen u gave us a lecture during the NGOconnect with dean initiative, just like u I have given up several times, because I have tried so many things and to break even is not always easy as a woman, but of late after joining this platform and reading stories from women I started picking courage to keep trying. Your story has really motivated me to keep pushing, so glad to meet u here again and be on this platform.

  • Kike
    Nov 19, 2017
    Nov 19, 2017

    I'm sorry, but I think you have me confused with someone else.

    In any case, thanks for the encouraging words :)

  • Ronnie.kpas
    Nov 19, 2017
    Nov 19, 2017

    Really!!!  So sorry about that, anyways am really motivated, thanks for Sharing.

  • Moupriya Dev
    Nov 17, 2017
    Nov 17, 2017

    Success is the satisfactory result of hard work, it may take months and years of grapple to finally achieve it. Success is the moment of equilibrium, the pure bliss of life. Congratulations to a woman who attained the power of learning from her failures. Congratulations to you, because the woman is you. 

    Thanks for sharing your story. Keep going, spread your wings and fly but not too high from where you can't see the surface of ground. All the best.

  • Kike
    Nov 19, 2017
    Nov 19, 2017

    Thank you :D

  • Rahmana Karuna
    Nov 18, 2017
    Nov 18, 2017

    kiki,

    thank you

    i do not happen to have that complex. hmm, maybe i will think on it for a few days or weeks to see if that is true. bless you for writing your heartfelt experience. i feel it. 

  • Corine Milano
    Nov 21, 2017
    Nov 21, 2017

    I love this story. Thank you Kike for your voice and persistence!

  • Katalina
    Nov 22, 2017
    Nov 22, 2017

    This is such a great story!  Thanks for sharing!

    Best, Katalina

  • denise ward
    Nov 26, 2017
    Nov 26, 2017

    Kike, great story!  I wish women would do more than code and I am sure women are very good at it. Women are good at most things, it's just that we've been left out of most things so we're finding our feet. How about Girls Who Code create an online totally egalitarian social/political system? I know of one, I know the programmer. It's called Synergy Nation. But we need this kind of system tout suite to give everyone a say in everything and do away with patriarchal systems and bring in horizontal systems where even children can have a voice. Do we want to change the world, or just shift the deck chairs on the Titanic so to speak? Would love any comments about this. Cheers to women!