Amy Franz

I grew up coding. By the time I was a teenager, I had racked up hundreds if not thousands of hours in front of the computer, and soon found myself towards the top of my IT class.

But my path wasn’t straightforward. Stereotypes around engineering—that engineers are invariably introverted, antisocial, and male—put me off.

But spending time in my father’s office and observing him and his team showed me that working in software development was not isolating but collaborative and social. I began to teach myself JavaScript, topping up my skills at two bootcamps to kick-start my new career.

However, I then faced another obstacle. Though there were many employers happy to hire junior developers, they all asked for candidates with experience. It seemed like a catch-22: I needed to experience to get a job, but I needed a job to get experience.

Thankfully, my current employer, DirectlyApply, was less interested in my work experience and more interested in my approach to problem solving. I did well in the coding test and they were also impressed by the hundreds of side projects I had posted to my GitHub.

Recognising that getting started in the industry was harder than many claimed, and that gender stereotypes remained a big obstacle to overcome, I began volunteering at Code First: Girls, teaching evening classes to women who were thinking of getting started in the industry.

Speaking with my students, it quickly became clear that there was and is a problem of self-belief amongst female developers which has deep roots. Many of my students believed they were not ‘smart enough to code’ and a larger number only felt they could apply for jobs if they felt 100% qualified for the role.

I feel that these barriers to entry are a problem for anyone who values digital skills and they often affect women disproportionately. The desire to change the culture drives me everyday. And while playing a central part in the growth of DirectlyApply, I am also doing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Entrepreneurship, alongside mentoring at Code First Girls.