I stumbled across this book when looking for any coding books on my library app – turns out there aren’t that many. But actually, I’m really glad I ran across it as I found it such a relateable story. Sophie and Andy were two teenage girls who found themselves at a coding camp together and through that camp, they built a game called ‘Tampon Run’ which was intended to challenge the taboo of talking about periods when people are perfectly fine with guns and violence. The game was only really intended for a few people to see, but it ended up going viral and getting international attention.
Partly a story about their experiences with the reaction to such a ‘controversial’ game, the part of the story I related most to was their experience of being a female in the world of coding.
I was the only girl in most of my computing classes at school, I spent 8 years at my last company and I was the only woman who was ever on the development team, and although I’m really lucky that the place I work now has a more even gender balance, there’s still such a disparity in the dev world in general and it was great to hear about the more positive experiences that Sophie and Andy had.
I really appreciated that the book was written by both girls. Although they both have a huge shared interest, they’re very different people and this book celebrates that. It’s also intensely personal in parts, with both girls opening up and sharing things about their private life which impacted on their coding life too.
I’d guess this book was mainly aimed at young girls looking to get into coding, but actually I’d say it’s a valuable read for a much wider range of people than that – whoever you are, you’ll probably learn something.
One of my favourite quotes from the book (although completely serious, it really made me laugh):
“Coding is like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for someone who has never heard of either ingredient, never opened a jar, or used a knife. You can’t just tell them to put jelly and peanut butter on a piece of bread and smush it together. You need to explain how to pick up the bread and how to pull it out of the packaging and then how to open the jar and how to pick up the knife…
And if your steps don’t make sense, you get a coder’s worst nightmare: a bug, the programming term for when a program fails to run the way you expect it to. The bug will either make the computer follow the steps incorrectly (like trying to spread the peanut butter on the plate instead of the bread), or the program won’t run at all.”