Women who code: Blake Clerke
Tell us a little about yourself.
I work full-time as a front-end developer for a company in Jacksonville, Florida, called DiscoverTec. I have worked there for 6 years, and the last two years I have worked remotely from Colorado. Typically I am in charge of all of our Umbraco projects and setting up the architecture of the backoffice for the user experience and writing the front-end code for the website and slicing the files that the designers give me.
What’s your experience with Umbraco?
I've worked with Umbraco since 2012 when I started with DiscoverTec. They were already using Umbraco for their websites so I joined the team and started learning how to use it. Prior to this I had no formal experience with Umbraco, I was very new to the system and after working with it for years I've grown to love it and its flexibility.
When and how did you become interested in coding?
Believe it or not, it all started with MySpace! I started customizing my profile and photoshopping backgrounds and I wanted a cool profile so I was learning how CSS worked and started teaching myself HTML and CSS. I loved it so much that when I started looking into colleges I was sold on their graphic design program almost instantly because they taught me the Adobe Suite so I could make some cool graphics for websites. From then on, I have mostly just taught myself how to code and have learned a lot on the job with the talented people that I work with.
When you decided to enter this industry, were you concerned about facing prejudice as a woman? If yes, what were your concerns?
I actually have no concerns about being a woman in the industry. I have always been treated fairly and when working on projects I am given credit for things that I do (or don't do). Being I am the only girl developer on my team has really proved to be no different.
I don't feel I'm treated differently at all and I get along well with everyone I work with. I do notice that this is a more male dominated industry, but it doesn't really bother me much. Most of my hobbies outside of this industry are male dominated sports too so it isn't something too different for me. I just tend to have a lot of guy friends!
Why do you think there still aren’t that many female coders?
I am not entirely sure, maybe if more women took a class and found it interesting they may pursue it? Personally I just find coding fun and the breaking things down to logically step through a process. I like it, so I find it fun and went ahead and found a career in it.
If I had to guess, maybe some women just aren't comfortable being in a male dominated work environment? Or they feel judged? I'm not really sure as I haven't really experienced any negatives things in the industry so my experience has been quite positive.
In your opinion, what could help to increase gender diversity in tech community?
I think just more women having the opportunity to get involved, maybe women taking more classes. There are a ton of meetups and classes in the Denver area for Women Who Code and Women in Tech. These meetups are great, getting you to socialize and learn more about coding.
Women supporting each other is a big deal, not just in this industry but as a whole. I think taking more classes or socializing with women in the industry already would really help ladies to get more involved, seeing that it really isn't as intimidating as one might think.
What advice would you give to someone looking to make a career move and learn to code?
Go for it! Go to a meetup group and socialize, it is fun! start with the basics, you can learn from fellow people locally or online. There are some great free and paid tools online to get started and going from there you can go to meetup groups and meet more women in tech and learn from them too.
How do you imagine your future as a developer?
Personally, I want to get into more back-end development. The guys that I work with who do the more heavy lifting are so smart. I love being in developer round table meetings with them, they are always trying new things, researching new technologies and there is just so much to learn from them. I want to be like that. I love architecture and organizing things, whether it’s code or doctypes in Umbraco, I find it fun and I want to continue to learn and build things.