A small victory for some

The path I’m carving out for myself on my way to a proper Scrum Master title is quite a long, windy, weird path. I chose it this way, though, because I don’t want to limit myself to a non-technical role in a company that isn’t tech related. I want to make myself a desirable candidate, and to me, that means that I need to expand my technical skills and knowledge.

Currently, I’m learning merging SQL and Python together. Today’s a light bulb moment. I love them, both as a teacher and as a student. Light bulb moments are why educators do what they love, despite low pay. It’s a great feeling, even if the huge victory for yourself is a small one to others. It matters to me, and I’m celebrating it, no matter how small it is on the world stage.

A few weeks back I went through a MySQL bootcamp. I’m now learning Python again. It’s been awhile, and one embarrassing job interview later, I’m determined to know what I’m doing next time I’m called up to a white board. That position didn’t have anything to do with coding, but I mentioned that I was vaguely familiar with Python, so they wanted working knowledge. I was thrown off and attempted to solve the problem in JavaScript, my mortal enemy. Obviously, I had to learn from this mistake and course-correct.

In my current course work, we are now creating SQL databases through Python and I am giddy with joy. I didn’t forget too much SQL in the past few weeks as I shifted gears to learn Python, and now, as the two come together, I’m feeling nothing but pure happiness.

In my path of expanding my technical skills and my journey to a Scrum Master role, I chose to learn SQL and Python as a means to strengthen the analytical role I’ve filled for the past few years. I’d like to move from risk into data analytics, in a broader term. I feel as the shift to data continues, having this background will make me more desirable as a candidate. However, this means that I’ve been taking a lot of Data Science courses, which comes with its own set of problems.

Most of these problems aren’t with the separate skills necessary, nor learning how to combine these together. The problem really lies with the people who have either come from a mathematical and academic background learning the coding behind Data Science, or programmers wanting to shift into an analytical role by learning how to use their skills to extract data. Let’s be honest here: Data Science has a huge problem with gatekeeping, and this is coming from both sides of the issue.

In an ideal world, you would have academics and programmers working together to come up with elegant solutions to data’s problems. Programmers use concepts and algorithms that mathematicians have been long acquainted with, while laughing at best practice conventions used in coding from the data community (do you really need to import pandas as pd?). Academics in turn like to joke about Python being the second best at everything, but you can’t know what you’re doing unless you know R.

Why is there a division? More importantly, how do those who wish to break into this area overcome the obstacles all of these squeaky wheels are creating? Honestly, as a woman, I’ve seen this time and time again throughout my life. Whenever there is a male-centric hobby, craft, profession, or what-have-you, the little niche that already exists becomes quite an advocate for keeping The Other out. This happens in gaming, in comics, and anywhere else where it is male dominated.

Note to guys: having other people be interested in the same things you are isn’t a threat to you. That band you really like doesn’t get worse when more people start listening to them. If that band changes their sound and you don’t like their new stuff, that’s a perfectly valid opinion. But be honest with yourself. You no longer like how they sound. That has nothing to do with their new fans. That’s on you. This is nothing to be ashamed of. There are plenty of other bands out there for you to discover.

Instead of gatekeeping to keep something like data all yours and yours only, why not mentor newcomers, rather than shoot them down? A healthy community thrives, and a healthy community starts with you. Otherwise, you’re just creating yet another toxic cesspool to wallow in. Wallowing in toxicity is a great way to have the opposite of the desired outcome that happens with gatekeeping. If you’d like to be left behind in the long run, feel free to continue your toxic behavior of gatekeeping.

However, if you’d like to help pioneer a forward-thinking movement to usher in the new age of data, abandon your post as a gatekeeper and turn to the fine practice of mentoring. Help yourself by helping others and be a better person. Bring joy to your life and theirs. Be better than a gatekeeper.

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