In a scholarship application for a coding boot camp, I
was asked the following question and it really bugged me for a few reasons:
In a traditionally male dominated field, what benefits do you think women can bring to the class environment and technology field? What makes you the most deserving candidate for the scholarship?
Here was my
There are two
answers to this question that address what is asked. The first answer accepts the
premise there’s something inherently different between men and women. And
traditionally, most people accept this premise and a response might list the
inherently different and beneficial qualities of “women” to include, for
example, diverse group dynamics and work styles, solid managerial qualities,
strong empathetic perspectives and etc.
second type of answer would not accept the premise that there is something
inherently different between men and women and would even go so far as to
argue, in a radical feminist fashion, that the qualities of “women” and “men”
are not consistent with gender but instead social constructs that
societal/cultural norms instill in artificial types (‘men’ and ‘women’).
side on the radical feminist perspective to answer this almost misogynistic
question about what benefits women might bring to the table (if only they had
shot). Women bring benefits to their work or class environment as much as any other
person no matter their gender. But not categorically women qua women.
isn’t a bad one for a scholarship application, but it is discouraging to ask
what women can contribute to the technology field. What about other gendered
folx? What have women already contributed to the field? And what can men or
persons in positions of power and privilege do to enable minorities to impact
the field? These are the real questions that should be asked.
So herein lies the answer to the deeper question:
people learning/working in the technology field or any field should acknowledge
the disparities of race, gender and sexual orientation on larger scales. And people
in power should exercise their influence and authority to institutionally empower
women, minorities and other gendered folx within the field and change that
field and society in turn. The field can benefit itself by stripping away
barriers and assumptions that have been taught through generational
stereotypes/norms. This work needs to happen institutionally.
believe men and women are inherently different. I think society constructs
limitations and barriers and institutions and businesses can fight and correct
them. Being a gay, biracial cis-woman who just entered the technology field, I
want to work with people that respect and acknowledge the need for equality and
dignity for all. And I’d like to exist in any place as myself and not a gender.
Bootcamps or career
accelerator programs are short term education programs designed to help you learn
new skills and find a job. If you are thinking about attending one, I will share
some tips about finding a bootcamp, my story about how I chose to attend Codeup
in San Antonio, TX and how I got funding to attend.
My first tip is to spend
at least a few months to a year researching the topic you want to study and the
bootcamps available. There are tons of resources online to learn programming. I
will provide a detailed table below of the courses I took, most of which are
free. While you are learning the basics, start to learn about the bootcamps
that teach this subject, read through bootcamp curriculum, take notes on
tuition costs and start dates and note whether or not they provide scholarships.
This first step is crucial for figuring out if this topic is something you are genuinely
Secondly, when you start
researching bootcamps, you will find that cost of tuition can be high. The best
strategy is to look simultaneously look for funding and bootcamps. First look
locally and seek out local and federal grants to attend based on being
under-employed, unemployed or under-represented in the field (minorities). I
was only able to find funding because I met with a local career training
program which enabled me to access local and Department of Labor funds. If you
don’t meet the criteria of being being under-employed, unemployed or
under-represented in the field, then don’t worry! There are still other
scholarships and loans out there.
Warning!—only start to contact/call
up the bootcamps when you are comfortable with your basic skills in programming
(or whatever you are trying to learn) and when you are committed to attending.
Bootcamp admissions will aggressively seek you out. They want you to attend
their courses. You should have clear intentions about what you want to do, how
much money you want to spend, and how good you are at programming. Just be
honest with the people you speak to about your circumstances. This is a process
so take your time. Often, if you get rejected from a bootcamp, you can still
Lastly, there are almost
always loan companies that specialize in loan for students of bootcamps. If the
cost of tuition is still prohibitive, you can consider loans as your last
option. In most cases, these loans can be repaid easily with the job you will
(hopefully, most likely) get after you graduate. Some bootcamps offer refunds
if you don’t get a job (with conditions) and others offer deferred tuition
where you don’t pay anything until you get your first job.
As for my experience, I learned about Data Science online and spent 10 months researching the subject and bootcamps. I took a slew of courses online to learn the basics, which I will share below. Then I started to apply to bootcamps. Ultimately, I was able to find Codeup in my hometown. I visited their campus and spoke with their admissions representative about funding. I loved that this school was in my hometown, so it was a practical choice for a full-time program. I also liked the instructors and admissions people that I met. The admissions person told me about their funding options and sent me to a local career training program, which informed me about local and federal grants that were not easily accessible online. Working with this local program was long and uncertain but I stuck with it. The real reasons I was able to get funding through them were because I had been under-employed for years, I had used up all my savings, I was living at home with family and I was unemployed at the time that I applied for the funding. In the end, I chose Codeup because I was able to find funding, it was in my hometown and I genuinely liked the people I met there, especially Maggie Giust, the Senior Data Scientist.
I will share a table of
the exact funding amounts that I got below. This will probably not be the norm.
I got extremely lucky with my funding.
All in all, this whole
process is precarious, scary and hard. You should give yourself plenty of time
to research and learn about the process, the bootcamps and the subject you are
trying to study.
If you need any advice,
please feel free to contact me directly. And if this was helpful please send it
along to anyone you think would benefit from it.
Join for free. Audit courses for free. Some times you can get stuck when they ask you to pay in order to submit quizzes. If this happens to you, just skip the quizzes or sign up for a “free trial” and cancel before you are charged.
Easy, work through exercises slowly. Spent about 1 week on it.
Update: As of October 2019, I have learned that Project Quest no longer has funds from the Department of Labor, which was the majority of my funding. Please contact Project Quest directly for more information about the resources that they currently provide.