Women In Media: It’s Code Like A Girl Founder Ally Watson

Women In Media: It’s Code Like A Girl Founder Ally Watson
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Ally Watson, developer at comms firm Deepend, is also passionate about luring more women into coding. So much so she started the highly successful education program ‘Code Like A Girl’. Here, she tells B&T why the future looks bright, her love of Melbourne and being the only female in the coding class…

I don’t code for computers, I code for people…
I love learning new ways of making my code pretty, clean and the best it can be, from the way it’s written to the techniques I use. As a backend developer you don’t get much opportunity to wow people with jazzy animations or styling, so when an opportunity arises I put everything I’ve got into it.

Wearable tech is about to get really interesting…
When you start combining different areas to become one, that’s true innovation. Paypal just tested out their wearable payment device at Splendour in the Grass allowing users to travel around cash free and pay for food and drink. Now that the technology is available I think we’ll start to see some really cool solutions come out the woodwork.

If I was Prime Minister for a week I’d make coding mandatory from primary schools through high school…
Countries around the world are already doing this. I hope Tony Abbott catches on.

My industry hero is Linda Luikas…
She’s part programmer, co-founder of Rails Girls and the author and illustrator of Hello Ruby a book for kids to teach them about computers and technology but in the fun and whimsical world they can relate to. I love that she’s making the world of code a more accessible place.

Outside of work I like to plan…
I plan trips, parties and often get made fun of by my partner whilst I work on my ‘life-plan’.  I love living in Melbourne and most weekends we’ll be wining and dining in a new area of the town as there is still so much to discover here.

It’s not very difficult to get people on-board with what we’re doing…
It’s fortunate that the facts and figures speak for themselves.

I enjoy working with approachable people who are level headed and passionate about what they do and the quality of their work…
A positive attitude and good sense of humour can really make all the difference when you are constantly faced with tricky coding problems and stressful deadlines.

Leadership is about nurturing, encouraging and inspiring your team…
It shouldn’t be about telling them how to do things but telling them what needs to be done and letting them surprise you with the results.

I’m inspired by the marriage of creativity and science in this industry – I was the only computer science student who also chose History of Art for my curriculum…
I became a web developer because I wanted to get close to all the creative action, as well as maintain and expand my programming skills.

Relocating from the UK to Australia and securing a job at the Melbourne arm of award-winning agency Deepend was a great achievement for me…
The experience I’ve gained here has already greatly expanded my skill-set and they have 100 per cent supported me in my aspirations for Code Like a Girl.

I’ve always had strong entrepreneurial tendencies…
I’d love to have my own company.I’m not sure what the company will be but that’s the joy of being a developer; you can create anything from code in almost any industry. I’d love to get more involved in code-education and inspiring younger generations but how I plan on doing this, who knows.

If you wasn’t doing this I’d probably be an interior designer/furniture maker…
Ikea, West Elm, Matt Blatt – these are my happy places. I love turning houses into homes and helping my partner with Ikea hacks. My Pinterest boards are filled with interior inspo. I think I get it from my mum!

If I could change anything about the industry I’d make it a more diverse workforce…
Diverse teams make better solutions.

Finding the right boss and team is crucial…
It’s a fast moving industry and you need to grow with it. Having the right management team to support and nurture you through that growth can make such a huge impact on the developer you will become. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work with some incredible bosses and tech directors.

I’m a completer finisher…
I love starting with a problem and fixing it. That’s why coding is so perfect for me. The satisfaction you feel when you code something from nothing and it works, there’s nothing quite like it.

My favourite advertising/marketing campaign from the past 12 months is ‘Like A Girl’ by Always…
What a powerful and incredible campaign. The most recent one features the girls breaking metaphorical boxes that gender stereotypes put them in. This is why we called our initiative ‘Code Like a Girl’

I felt like giving up when I first started to learn programming…
I felt really intimidated and as though I didn’t belong. I remember being in classes full of confident guys who already had so much prior knowledge. I look back now and I am so proud of the fact that I never gave up because it has led me to pursue a career that I am truly happy in and that I feel is perfect for me.

I’d tell my 20-year-old self…
Tiny tweaks make big changes! Just take every day as it comes and don’t compare yourself to others.


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