This week I got an opportunity to speak with the awe-inspiring, Tracy Lee, Founder of This Dot Labs. She's a Google Developer Expert, an RxJS Core Team member, a Women Techmakers lead, and a frequent keynote speaker at conferences. These days she runs This Dot which provides teams with technical leaders who bring in-depth knowledge of the web platform. Here are Tracy's responses to my quickfire questions.
Q: Hi Tracy, Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you start coding?
Tracy: I took a 3 week HTML/CSS/JS course, and surrounded myself with mentors who would help me as I learned on my own and with them.
Q: How did you start speaking at conferences? What do you like the most about being a keynote speaker?
Once I gained that confidence, I started speaking everywhere and got excited about teaching people!
I love being a keynote speaker because I'm able to get people excited about a technology and kick off the conference with some good energy!
Q: Recently, we saw many conferences were called out for not having gender balance on their list of speakers. Why do you think this happens so frequently? What can we do about it?
Tracy: There are simply less women in tech. I do appreciate the efforts most conference organizers go through to try and change the ratio, and it's a process that will still take a few years to change and fix.
Q: A lot of developers, we know, contribute a lot to OSS and write excellent articles, however, they are not very good at speaking? How can they improve?
Tracy: Practice makes perfect! Dive head in, fail a bunch of times, pick yourself back up, and try again. If you don't try you'll never succeed.
Q: What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
Tracy: Confidence gets you a long way. Know you are supposed to be there, and people will treat you as such.
Know your strengths, weaknesses, and what you need to be successful. Make sure you are getting what you need out of what you do, or change.
Use your "unequality" to your advantage. For example, if you are a woman and the only woman in the room, it's likely that people will pay more attention to you than not, putting you at an advantage vs a disadvantage. Change your perception and look for opportunities instead of worrying about your shortcomings.
Q: If there’s a bias women face, why do you think it is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?
Tracy: Yes! Gender roles and biases are a big thing. Education and acknowledgement of gender bias is necessary to move forward.
Q: What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and coding? Pursue a career in tech?
Tracy: Welcome them! Encourage them! Show them how easy it is. Support them. Mentor them.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Microsoft or Google?
Tracy: You can have a goal and a dream, but I don't believe in having dreams for specific companies. If you do, then study and hit those goals, but in the meantime, focus on what you need to do as a developer to become successful. Networking, as well, is very important. Find people on twitter! Talk to them! Ask them about their experience working there and the hiring process! The worst that could happen is them ignoring you, but so what?
Q: What are your favorite programming tools?
Tracy: VSCode is probably my fave programming tool.
Q: What does your programming setup look like? Could you please share a photo? :)
Sweet and simple!
Q: Thanks a lot for answering my questions, Tracy. Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Tracy: Jump right in. Get on twitter. Meet people and see how they do it. Share your journey of getting into tech - we all care and want to root you on!
What do you think about this interview? Whom should I interview next? Please add your comments below. As always, if you liked this interview, please share it with your network and help us spread the word.