Coding & Cocktails: A LadyDev’s Perspective

One of our Coding & Cocktails ladydevs, Tara, will be sharing her perspective on the Coding & Cocktails sessions with us over the next few months.  Here is what she had to say about the February session on the command line.


This month’s Coding & Cocktails tackled the Command Line, or, as I lovingly grew up referring to it, “that place you must never go for fear of turning your computer into a paperweight forever”. That command prompt box terrified me. I was raised in a household where women weren’t allowed to play with computers beyond Microsoft Office and some games because “tech stuff wasn’t for girls”, so this session really challenged the concepts of what I was capable.

My terror was completely unfounded, and this month’s Coding & Cocktails put all those myths about the monster hiding in the computer to rest. I settled in with a stiff drink, because I KNEW I was going to need it… and proceeded to sort through directories and folders; create, move, rename, remove, and manipulate all sorts of files; and do the same things we do every day with mouse clicks and icons from the comfort of a keyboard and a few simple commands. That’s it. No magic. No ruined computer. No calling Geek Squad for help. Just me and a room full of women showing our computers who’s boss, which is rewarding because, sometimes, you kind of feel like the computer has the upper hand on you.

That’s one of the best things about Coding & Cocktails (well, besides the crazy delicious drinks): it doesn’t matter your level of expertise. You get to spend an evening learning how not to be dominated by your technology and learning how best to put it to use FOR you. It’s an empowering feeling, especially in this day and age when we like to attribute intelligence to our machines. Too often, we talk about our computers like they have a mind of their own and won’t do what we want. Coding & Cocktails reminds us that computers aren’t finicky kids throwing tantrums and gives us the tools we need to make them work for us: how to look in the right places, use the right commands and think in a way that the machine “understands.”

My whole way of thinking about how I interact with technology is slowly undergoing a pretty significant paradigm shift: I’m starting to reconsider how I interact with the technology I use on a daily basis, why and how it works like it does, and how to optimize its use for me. How can technology REALLY make me a better person? What does that even mean? These are some pretty hefty questions that are coming out of a night of drinking with the girls over a computer screen and some computer classes, but I’m in the process of reinventing and redefining my life by going into development after years working in healthcare. And I’m not the only one. I know several other women in Coding & Cocktails are experiencing the same transitions themselves. This is important stuff, and it starts with something as basic as learning how to manage the command line in an environment where we feel safe and comfortable to be ourselves. I won’t lie: the alcohol helps too.

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