Many women will find the title of this article entirely unrealistic or at most, utterly impossible and only feasible for superheroes. This is because code and children are both ironically similar in that they demand dedication on a daily basis, test your patience and perseverance, take precious sleeping hours, and might even make you cry considerable times. But even though it seems impossible, in this article the CodeWomen participants Shaminderjeet and Nurjannah share their experiences of learning to code while raising their children.
Shaminderjeet joined MigraCode in 2021 thanks to the scholarships provided by our partner INCO Academy to study the IT Support & Security course. After graduating successfully, she decided to continue her training in digital skills to pursue a career in tech. Thus, she is currently doing the Web Development course offered by MigraCode. At the same time, she is raising her 18-month-old baby Ikam.
On her side, Nurjannah became interested in the tech sector two years ago, after joining a conference organised by another code academy. From there, she met new people who introduced her to coding and with whom she got along well. Today, she is volunteering at CodeWomen while looking for a job as a developer and raising her 8-year-old kid Zia.
When being asked about the difficulties they face, Shaminderjeet answers that being a mother in this career is challenging, but at the same time “motherhood is a blessing and I don’t take it as a burden”. Her kid is now at an age where he really needs attention, so it’s difficult for her to work from home. “Today I wasn’t able to meet my mentor because my son needed me, so I had to cancel the meeting at the last minute… Other times I just open my laptop to work on some exercises, but Ikam wants to grab it”, she explains.
For Nurjannah, her main difficulty is dealing with self-confidence. She is a single mother who at the moment is unemployed, a situation which she defines as “scary”. According to her, two years ago it was really challenging to apply for jobs, as she was experiencing self-rejection. Moreover, during COVID-19, she spent the first five months of lockdown separated from her husband and Zia, which made her break down all of a sudden. “But a child is another person to take care of, so you can’t break down”, she says. Fortunately, now Zia is much older and, therefore, more self-sufficient.
Shaminderjeet is also currently unemployed, which creates a very tricky situation for her to progress in her career. As she can’t afford to leave her child in a kindergarten, she doesn’t have much time to work alone and, therefore, sometimes she comes to class without having reviewed the previous lessons. In this sense, both Shaminderjeet and Nurjannah agree that joining the CodeWomen community has been extremely helpful. “These women changed my life. When I talk to them I get the feeling of being energized, there is an exchange”, claims Nurjannah.
In addition, having to worry about the future is also stressful for two women who changed careers and are raising families. “My age and the fact that I’m a mother are my main concerns right now”, explains Nurjannah, as she feels that she has “less energy to distribute at the end of the day”. On her side, Shaminderjeet is worried about getting enough time to polish her skills, as programming “is not about finishing a course but requires continuous learning”.
However, Shaminderjeet states that “taking this course was my decision and thus I don’t want to use my child as an excuse. A child is going to be a child until he or she is 16 years old”. As a final reflection, both women agree that the best advice they could give to a future ‘mum in tech’ is to set priorities. “Find the balance between your heart and your head”, says Nurjannah. “And think that, if you survive that, you will survive anything! You also feel an internal power when you are a mother”, concludes Shaminderjeet.