Are you smart enough to be in tech?

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

What do you really think, are you smart enough?

I mean, really think about the answer you would give and why. The truth is you could find evidence for an affirmative answer or a negative answer. Maybe you didn’t do very well in math. Maybe you were a C student or you got that C that one time. Many of you look at me and think well I don’t have an undergrad in Computer Science like Ellen so I’m not as smart as she is. Is that true? Is that really true?

It’s not. I’m sure it’s not.

Because I think a woman’s decision (a true decision where she acts on it and sticks to it no matter what) to go into tech is directly related to this question — do you believe you are smart enough to be in tech?

It might sound simple, but it’s not. I’ve answered this with yes and with no and with everything in between during my tenure in tech. I remember really having this internal battle while making Mac ‘N Cheese for my kids about whether I could hack it as a developer working part-time back when we lived in the western suburbs of Chicago. Back then I was deciding between getting a part-time developer role or getting my PhD in Neuroscience. It’s been a winding road for me:)

I remember my biggest fear. This feels embarrassing to say so be gentle in your judgement. It really was my biggest fear about going back to work. What if I got a work assignment, an agile story or requirement for my part of the code and it took me longer than I had on my scheduled time and there was a deadline that I couldn’t meet? What then? So I would have to (a) sacrifice my kids, (b) sacrifice sleep or © be a poor quality employee. NONE of those sounded appealing to me.

They aren’t. They are horrible solutions. I can think of a million other solutions that would have led to a very different conclusion (e.g,. I would communicate well and re-negotiate deadlines and get babysitters and learn more, etc…).What was wrong with me? It really came down to this one question — did I believe I was smart enough to get the work done that tech (and dev specifically) would require of me? The answer. No.

At that time, I did not.

I went to graduate school in Learning, Design and Technology instead. It’s hard for me to look back at my time then and realize that all of my thoughts were just thoughts and I could have chosen a different path. I don’t regret my decision but I do wish I would have known then what I know now. I’m totally smart enough to be in tech. Guess what? So are you!

You don’t need any proof that you are smart enough. You don’t need to know HOW. In fact, YOU WILL NOT KNOW HOW WILL DO THIS. You will get experience. Learn from it. Do better. But you will only be able to do that if you tell yourself this thought. If you practice it. If you believe it. If you look for evidence that it is true.

“I am smart enough to be in tech!”

Let me know in our Facebook group for Moms In (and new to) Tech — why are you smart enough to be in tech?

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