Code Your Own Power

A few weeks ago I got invited to give a tech talk at a Mother-Daughter Hack Day from two dope local high school seniors who run a project called Inspiring Femgineers. I don’t have kids but had just given the graduation keynote at a local Girl’s in Technology program and had THE BEST time dismantling structural inequities via emoji and teaching them how to power pose. This group was a little younger (grades 5-8) but I said yes right away and asked if I could bring my 10 year old niece along with me. They said yes and we were game on.

It only hit me yesterday that I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about. Like most hackathons, it was kinda ╮ (. ❛ ᴗ ❛.) ╭ go-with-the-flow. So I decided to remix an email pep talk I gave my girlfriends last year about building your own power into a lady-superhero themed tech talk.

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I talked about HOW to approach work in technology so it remains fun and you want to keep doing it. But mainly my message was this: learning to code is like building your very own superpower. You don’t need to ask for permission to create what you think should exist in the world and that’s awesome. When you’re doing awesome work, you will attract and build community full of people with their own awesome, funky superpowers (like back-end development! UX design! robotics!). Because eventually you’re going to experience resistance to your ideas and if you believe in your heart it should exist and you have an awesome, funky, superpower-packed community behind you, coding your own power is lot less lonely and a lot more fun.

Oh, and my talk was entirely done in GIFs.

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Then I walked them through a product ideation process on a whiteboard. Lots of future apps for animal-lovers who enjoy swimming, running and singing on the horizon…

But don’t take my word for it. My niece took the world’s most awesome/hilarious/OMG-we-are-totally-related notes.

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After the hackathon wrapped, my niece and I walked over to New America to visit DataKind whose phenomenal DC chapter were running a DataDive. DK’s team totally welcomed this junior data scientist into the fold and introduced her to all the projects teams were working on. Thank you DataKind, for your hospitality!!!

When we got on the elevator to head home, my niece exclaimed “THIS WAS THE BEST DAY!!! I WANT TO USE TECHNOLOGY FOR GOOD WITH ALL MY NEW FRIENDS!!”

All and all, a pretty sweet Saturday.

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